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Beyond appearances

A little book on the necessity of not being content with a single story, which also says a lot about good corporate culture

Getting used to looking beyond appearances. Or rather, always looking for more sides to a story. Paying attention to what lies behind the picture we are presented with. Because the reality that we see is almost never the only one that exists. It applies to everyone. It’s a question of freedom and awareness, of wanting to understand more and better. Of wanting to act in a more effective manner, perhaps. This approach takes the motives and reasoning of others into consideration, as well as the (numerous) reasons for which situations, environments and contexts arise; it is the ability to prevent ourselves from stopping at a single interpretation of events (a single story), and is a quality that must be cultivated. In all of us.

For this reason, it is important – as well as highly enjoyable – to read Il pericolo di un’unica storia, the recent Italian translation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s video lecture ‘The Danger of a Single Story’. On the surface, this work seems worlds away from business culture and from good organisation of production processes, but in actual fact, this short text (less than 20 pages) is recommended reading for everyone. Even those who are in charge of managing the organisation of production on a day-to-day basis. Paying close attention to what lies behind and inside what we see or believe, after all, is also useful for those who make decisions regarding a product or a market, for example.

The message communicated by the Nigerian writer is simple. She intends to warn us against the risk we run every time we oversimplify a situation, and see reality from a single perspective. To put it another way, she refers to the danger of a single story, of the process of cultural ‘flattening’, of a vision of identity that erases different cultures and points of view. As such, the indications provided by Adichie are clear, and apply to every situation. And they call upon us to open our minds to every detail, every piece of information, every fragment of reality that could help us to understand the other, the others, the situations that arise and that would be irremediably lost if we were to stop at first appearances, at a single version of events.

Adichie’s book can be read in one sitting – it is well written and well translated – and takes the form of a short story, a public speech, something that might be said while walking down the street. The message is clear straight away. Yet it is a book that is worth the effort of re-reading.

‘Many stories matter,’ Adichie writes: ‘Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign. But stories can also be used to empower, and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people. But stories can also repair that broken dignity.’

 

Il pericolo di un’unica storia
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Einaudi, 2020

A little book on the necessity of not being content with a single story, which also says a lot about good corporate culture

Getting used to looking beyond appearances. Or rather, always looking for more sides to a story. Paying attention to what lies behind the picture we are presented with. Because the reality that we see is almost never the only one that exists. It applies to everyone. It’s a question of freedom and awareness, of wanting to understand more and better. Of wanting to act in a more effective manner, perhaps. This approach takes the motives and reasoning of others into consideration, as well as the (numerous) reasons for which situations, environments and contexts arise; it is the ability to prevent ourselves from stopping at a single interpretation of events (a single story), and is a quality that must be cultivated. In all of us.

For this reason, it is important – as well as highly enjoyable – to read Il pericolo di un’unica storia, the recent Italian translation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s video lecture ‘The Danger of a Single Story’. On the surface, this work seems worlds away from business culture and from good organisation of production processes, but in actual fact, this short text (less than 20 pages) is recommended reading for everyone. Even those who are in charge of managing the organisation of production on a day-to-day basis. Paying close attention to what lies behind and inside what we see or believe, after all, is also useful for those who make decisions regarding a product or a market, for example.

The message communicated by the Nigerian writer is simple. She intends to warn us against the risk we run every time we oversimplify a situation, and see reality from a single perspective. To put it another way, she refers to the danger of a single story, of the process of cultural ‘flattening’, of a vision of identity that erases different cultures and points of view. As such, the indications provided by Adichie are clear, and apply to every situation. And they call upon us to open our minds to every detail, every piece of information, every fragment of reality that could help us to understand the other, the others, the situations that arise and that would be irremediably lost if we were to stop at first appearances, at a single version of events.

Adichie’s book can be read in one sitting – it is well written and well translated – and takes the form of a short story, a public speech, something that might be said while walking down the street. The message is clear straight away. Yet it is a book that is worth the effort of re-reading.

‘Many stories matter,’ Adichie writes: ‘Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign. But stories can also be used to empower, and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people. But stories can also repair that broken dignity.’

 

Il pericolo di un’unica storia
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Einaudi, 2020