3.1.6 PM Narrative Structure

Drawing on the wisdom of story telling, and its proven adaptation to lean, many projects benefit from conceptualizing their work in narrative terms.

By structuring the total project as a "Story of Stories", the project can map better to a wider array of levels of understanding.

Levels of Abstraction / Analysis / Complexity

When relating to very complex programs of action, it is very helpful to differentiate our various levels of analysis / abstraction / complexity.

These narrative terms carve out 5 different levels of analysis / abstraction / complexity.

The Meta Story

In the Lionsberg System, there is by definition only ONE Meta Story and ONE Meta Goal.

This is the highest overarching and uniting level of abstraction and complexity that by definition contains within itself and orders all other Stories and Goals.

The Meta Story is Absolute and can never be concretized, but contains our Current Best Understanding of Where We Are, How We Got Here, Where We Are Going, Why It Matters, and how we advance through various milestones that approximately mark the way towards The Meta Goal.

It forces to contextualize everything we do within an existing Reality that is bigger than us All, and is the One Thing we all share in common.

The Meta Story is told in the Mythical Context of a Meta Quest towards the Meta Goal.

The Way towards the Goal is marked by Milestones.

Contained in the Meta Story is a Total Nested Hierarchy of Stories that play out at various levels of abstraction.

These searately identified levels of abstraction and complexity help orient the distributed network of teams to what is happening at various short and long term levels of analysis.

The Project Narrative Framework

One level down from the total set of all possible projects, each Project contains its on highest overarching and uniting Narrative Framework.

This single unifying Narrative Frameworks coheres all narrative elements of the Project into harmony, while simultaneously contextualizing the Project in highest order Meta Project. This is critical to communicating to the world not only what the project itself is, but why it is important to the Meta Project.


The permanent and persistent ideas that are steady throughout the Project Narrative are called Themes.

For the Meta Project, they are things like Health and Wellness, Learning, Human, Organizational, and Community Development, Energy, Technology, Society, Culture, Art, Infrastructure, Governance, Spirituality, etc.

Within that context, and now reaching down the lowest level of abstraction:


Stories are told from the standpoint of individual human experiences.

They are simply structured in a way that informs the team about the human issue and experience driving the higher levels of narrative.

They are typically structured as:

  1. As a (Persona),
  2. I want (Some Goal),
  3. So that (Something is Resolved / Reason).
  4. This makes possible (X), and avoids the risk / suffering of (Y).

This framing follows the basic Hero's Journey...

  1. A Persona
  2. In pursuit of a Goal
  3. Is facing an Issue / Obstacle they can't resolve
  4. Meets a Guide
  5. Who gives them a plan / solution / tool
  6. To achieve success (what is possible), and avoid failue / risk / suffering.

By expressing the issue as a human need, people respond better and are empowered to take greater agency to creatively address the true need. It forces the Actor to to model in their mind how to actually meet the need or solve the problem inherent in the Story. The Story allows flexibility in the specification that requires doing the Wise Right Thing to meet the need, rather than blindly doing what they were told.

Where necessary, stories may also be expressed as metaphor where ambiguity is needed to support different perspectives.

What is bigger than a story?

An Epic.


An epic is a longer "Story of Stories" narrating the epic adventures of multiple heroic or legendary Actors within a certain context.

What is bigger than an Epic?


A saga is an even longer "Epic of Epics" narrating a broader set of adventures across a broder set of context.

Project Narrative (revisited)

The elements above are all united by the Project Narrative, which is contextualized and cohered with all other Project Narratives via the Meta Story.

Program Narrative (optional)

Occasionally, Projects are performed in teh context of a broader Program (composed of multiple Projects).

The Program narrative would follow the framework above, with the individuals Projects contextualized at the Saga level as the primary elements that made up the overall Program.

Meta Project (revisited)

All Programs and Projects are contextualized and aggregated within the framework of ONE overarching and uniting Meta Project.

Summary of Levels

  1. Stories, build up to
  2. Epics, build up to
  3. Sagas, build up to
  4. Themes, that are persistent and build up to
  5. Project Narrative, which unites the elements below, and is united with other projects via a
  6. Program Narrative (optional), which is united with all Projects and Program by the
  7. Meta Story

How Actors Relate To The Stories and Narratives

As individuals get to know the various stories and narritives in the Meta Story, they have the opportunity to articulate their own unique story, and engage as Actors in the Meta Story.

  1. Actors Forge Or Join A Team
  2. Teams Organize and Federate
  3. Teams Make and Secure Commitments
  4. That accomplish Quests towards Goals
  5. That accomplish Projects
  6. That accomplish Programs
  7. That produce Throughput of the Meta Goal of the Meta Story