J11. Restorying and Narrative Therapy Tutorial

SUMMARY of TD11: Restorying is based on Narrative Therapy work by  White & Epston and is being applied to organizations by  Barry, and by Rosile. It is related to Storytelling Organizations work by Boje; Kaye; Boyce, and to restorying work in interorganizational consultation. 
Similarities to other TD methods:
  • Ô  14.Postmodern Theatrics
  • ¬  12. Transorganization
  • %  13. Festival and 
  • I  16. Critical Theory
  • C  5. Action Research

Dissimilar to other TD Methods:

  • ?  7. Reengineering

Part I: Restorying                                         

Part II: The New Storytellers (post grads)      

Part III Super Advanced Work

 main site http://web.nmsu.edu/~dboje/TDgameboard.html

Born on: September 16, 1999

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OVERVIEW (Summary of what is below)

Part I - Restorying. This section introduces  restorying and work being done in family therapy and recently being applied in organization and
Transorganization settings  We include links to Barry & Elmes (1997 AMR article along with Boyce's work in Organization Studies. There are also practical items usable in workshops written by Rosile. (See restorying reference list). return to index or see -Part I Restorying text

For a brief overview of the similarities and differences of Appreciative Inquiry, Restorying, Emery-Search Conference, and Hopewell's Congregation approaches to storytelling by Boje, Alvarez and Schooling (press here).

PART II: The New Storytellers. This contrasts of several narrative approaches. (press here) to give you a table-overview of the varied narrative disciplines. Czarniawska’s (1997) Narrating the Organization; Boje (1991, 1995); Boyce (1995) Storytelling Organization; Clair’s (1997) Embedded Narratives; O' Conner's narrative approach; TwoTrees (1997) approach to the Living Story; and  Grace Ann Rosile's work on narration and horse sense. It requires grounding in multiple narratiologies and deconstruction. The applications are being worked out. You may not get this level unless you have had grounding in the first three parts.  mainNEW STORYTELLERS text

return to index


PART I: Restorying


Here is the basic difference between the TD Gameboard, Appreciative Inquiry and Restorying Methods. We also make a number of connections between the Restorying and other TD Gameboard methods.

We live in a web of stories, with organizations and their members and stakeholders connected by silver filaments relating plot and context. Restorying is based in postmodern theory and in deconstruction (post-structuralism). The assumption is that networks of organizations and people are mired in saturated, and quite messy problems, with a history of unresolved conflict, and power/ knowledge relationships that results in some players having more voice and power than other more marginal players. There is also an assumption that people have more than one storyline, and more than one self.  The idea of multiple selves, deconstruction, and postmodern fragmented selves is opposed by quite a number of psychologists, such as Glass(1993). My counter to this claim, is that Glass (1993) limits definitions of postmodern to Lyotard, Baudrillard, and Derrida; these are not the only postmodern theorists; the view on Derrida does not include a focus on resituation (in Storytelling Gameboard). Resituation is a move often ignored by critics of postmodern. The idea of resituation is to deconstruct the forces that bind the system of oppression in place, and move to a new or resituated set of influences.

We begin with our main contrast; Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is against deconstruction. The rationale is that in many problem settings, AI advocates believe that it is not necessary to dredge up the past or to do a critical assessment of the problems. Rather, the focus of AI is on the future, and getting people past their problems and into a climate of finding common ground, so that a network of collaborative interactions can be developed.

Restorying also is focused on building a new story, but uses deconstruction in order to break the grip of the dominant story that mires the people in a network in their current situation. Both approaches help network participants come together to fashion a new story.  In restorying the focus is on finding examples of network actor tactics for resisting the dominant story, or what is called the "saturated problem."  The consultant's role is to help the client network confront the influences of the dominant story and see be able to articulate the ways people are recruited into that story line.  Restorying assumes that the new stories constructed by network participants are very vulnerable to counter-attack by the old notions and by outside influences that want to keep the status quo in place (even when unhealthy).

Another difference between AI and Restorying, is that restorying includes a methodology to validate the new story so that it does not relapse into the grip of the old story.  A thrid difference is that in Restorying, the people are not the problem, the problem is the problem.


The focus of Restorying is to find the pattern of relationships and scripts in the network that are the problem, rather than find some individual or focal organization that is the problem. This would mean working to deconstruct the forces that keep the old story in play, but at the same time resituate those forces by finding ways to validate attempts by the network players to institute the new story and resist the influences of the old story. 


Some things to look at in doing restorying consultation work:

  1. What are the storylines in place? (how are people recruited to their roles in these stories?)
  2. Who are the characters in the story?  (antagonists, protagonists, victims, perpetrators, scapegoats)
  3. What is the composition of the story (What must be added, left out or rewritten to make this story a new story?).
  4. What is the dialog? (scripts).
  5. Who is the author of the dominant story? (there can be many).
  6. How does the plot (emplotment) unfold over time?
  7. Whose voices are marginal and dominant in the story?
  8. What collective assumptions are being played out? (See JoHari, Part II Bion assumptions)

Both AI and Restorying take a de-opponent stance, that is they try to avoid turning the situation into an us versus them mentality (i.e. dualizing network actors into good guys and bad guys).  Note this is quite different from the TD strategy of Community Development Network Development, where in the early phase, activists organize participants in ways that set up the bad guys for provocative action, hoping the situation will shake up and negotiations will result.

Restorying goes beyond AI and Community Development work by de-essentializing (a postmodern move).  The idea is to avoid types of analyses that reduce problems to component parts. Rather, the idea is to expand the program in ways consistent with the Emery TD approach, such as environmental scanning, so that people avoid reductionist thinking.  This mean the role of the consultant is to refocus attention on expansion, not reduction to a hunt for essences.  As with the Emery approach, the focus is on the network participants being the experts in their own storytelling, in the authoring of a new story, and in doing the restorying work.  As with Emery, there is a good deal of attention spent on building an informal network of support that reinforces the new behaviors and the new story. In Restorying, this is done by having network actors present their new story to an audience that can reinforce their new script and new voices. This has some kinship to Theatrics and the TD work of Augusto Boal. Another way restorying uses is having clients write letters to their consultants and to one another. The reason for having members of the network write letters is the assumptions that it is the entire system of relationships that reinforces what the TD approach of SEAM. calls the metascript.

Yet, different from Emery, the approach looks at ways to move beyond symptoms of the problems such as (fight/flight, dependencency) and get at issues such as perfectionism and systemic issues, such as we find in the TD approach of SEAM.

The consult role is to encourage the network stakeholders to engage in a process of story re-vision (Parry & Doan, 1994; Rosile, 1998 a, b, c; White & Epston, 1990; Zimmerman & Dickerson, 1996). References.

Boje, D. M. (2001g). Flight of Antenarrative in Phenomenal Complexity Theory, Tamara, Storytelling Organization Theory

Boje, D. M. (2001h). Before the Story Can be Told: An Antenarrative of the World Trade Center and Pentagon Disaster; also see Hybridity Visuals Presentation in Netherlands.

Boje, D. M. (2002a). Critical Dramaturgical Analysis of Enron Antenarratives and Metatheatre. Plenary presentation to 5th International Conference on Organizational Discourse: From Micro-Utterances to Macro-Inferences, Wednesday 24th - Friday 26th July (London).

Boje, D. M. (2002b) Enron Metatheatre: A Critical Dramaturgy Analysis of Enron’s Quasi-Objects. Paper presented at the Networks, Quasi-Objects, and Identity: Reintegrating Humans, Technology, and Nature session of Denver Academy of Management Meetings. Tuesday August 13, 2002.