Memes and Messaging for Transformation

Blog post by Sandra Waddock – Galligan Chair of Strategy, Carroll School Scholar of Corporate Responsibility, and Professor of Management at Boston College’s Carroll School of Management; Councillor – SDG Transformations Forum for the Meta-Narrative Working Group.


Where do we begin if we want to help foster system transformation? Of course, in complex systems with the types of wicked problems facing companies, other institutions, and the world today, there any number of possible points where interventions might take place. I fundamental place to start is with the stories or narratives that we tell ourselves about what the organization or community or society, even the world, is and how it operates. Narratives and stories define our relationships to each other, to the organizations and institutions to which we belong, and, ultimately, to the world around us. Yet if we think about how stories and narratives are constructed, we can find an even more foundational element that is often overlooked as part of change processes and even more so in efforts to bring about transformational change. That foundational element is the memes out of which stories are constructed.