Stonepiles in the Possibility Land

The difficulty starts with the translation of the title. The suggestion, that we are talking about „Milestones in the Possibility Land“ is simply deaf to the discourse of project management. Signposts, guideposts and waymarkers share different disabilities. The difficulty is essential because from a constructivist perspective everything is translation.


In the mountains we are used to orientate through piles of stones. In foggy and/or white-out situations, at zero point of orientation. For us, as the writers of this book, this means, that our curiosity has referred our fear to its limits and the risk of writing was worth it. And that we have left behind our unrecognizability and luckily found ourselves at the end of the day, at the end of the writing. The agility we have been demanding from us proceeding turned into our stance and program.

So is our book – Wegmarken im Möglichkeitenland – a pile of stones. Positions that bespeak a fundamental mistrust of any thought coming into ones mind while sitting. A mistrust of any static or codified position. The fact, that our self is a construct that is nurtured from social contexts is, from a narrative standpoint, not disappointing but a massive opportunity. Because any construct is principally de- and re-constructable it can be shaped and re-authored. It is this dynamic we harness in our dialogic practice called StoryWork.

It is a book written for people finding themselves in change processes, and for change consultants who are able to remember that behind any process there is a human. A book that carries on the family therapy’s approach – with the figureheads Michael White, David Epston and Karl Tomm – in the business world. A book that does not instrumentalize stories as vehicles but uses the dynamics of identity construction as door opener into the possibility land. StoryWork is always cultural work, even in companies. It reflects cultural restrictions, extrapolates new courses of action, and reclaims a play space, in which diversity is not just possible, but desirable as an innovation driver.

There is a text from Christoffer Haugaard, which David Epston mailed me some weeks ago. A text which braces itself against the myth that narrative work is just about replacing a toolset to reorganize thinking and change people. But narrative work is different. It resists the temptation of all psycho-disciplines to gain power over the entrusted subjects. It counters that with a stance chipping away at the discursive terms of formation and scrutinizing the social, cultural, political, ethical and historical context of the problematic stories people got stuck; a stance taking serious the process of subjectivation, instead of circling around the essence and the truth of the problematic subject; in the end a stance, which is never neutral and receives its ethical power by disclosing the process of positioning, reflecting and shaping.

„The intended effect of this ethical work of the narrative therapist/coach on herself in relation to power is to promote visibility, accountability, and mobility. This should decenter the therapist/coach and make her open to question and critique, and it should encourage her to promote diversity, difference, and dynamic power relations.“ Christoffer Haugaard, ebenda, p 16

Maybe it attracted your attention, that the subject of this quotation is female. Any form, in which we are pouring us, is part of the game. Nothing is random, everything counts. Because there is no outside of discourse. The privileged locus (for experts) is not existing. We have to keep on moving. Because our agility is our competence.

Curious? Inspired? Lets meet at the Congress in Heidelberg from May 19 to May 20, 2017 about Narrative Work and Storytelling in Organizations – Early Bird Tickets still available till 15th of January!

PS: Every piece of thought starts with translation. This holds true even if you do not cross language borders. If you wanna cross them you can re-read this text in French – in the blog of fabrique narrative.


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