Origins of the Narrative Garden


Thaler Pekar & Partners provides powerful Narrative Garden tools for being intentional about the stories and narratives you wish to cultivate. Thaler Pekar & Partners offers keynotes, programming, and consulting to guide you and your teams in finding, planting, growing, and pruning the stories necessary to successful realization of your vision. Our trademarked approach delivers agency, accentuates the active role of you as the leader, and provides clarity as you chart your organization’s path. Learn more.


Origins of the Narrative Garden

The usefulness of the Narrative Garden metaphor emerged when I was working with education advocates around communication and storytelling strategy. They knew what they wanted to say, and which stories they wanted to highlight. But they were immobilized by the enormity of the task. I suggested thinking about the communication landscape as a garden. It was an epiphany! With the garden metaphor in hand, we were able to jump into pragmatic communications planning.

Applying the Narrative Garden approach

I was in Chile to work with that nation’s largest agricultural company. The company was approaching the biggest public offering in Chile’s history. In preparation for increased attention from the IPO—and to provide conceptual unity to its diverse brands and product lines—they had hired Thaler Pekar & Partners to interview top management and key outsiders, elicit leadership stories, and determine and draft the institutional narrative.

Applying the Narrative Garden metaphor to the scores of interviews, we surveyed the landscape and walked through the gardens. In this example, the garden plots were the headquarters, the factories, the processing plants, even the company’s charitable activities.

As a result of our work, the company’s advertising, marketing, public relations, and internal communications campaigns all supported and reinforced the one central narrative. They entered the IPO with heightened brand identity and with employee and citizen pride and excitement.

Cultivating the Stories for Your Narrative Garden 

Be intentional about your stories: 

  • Which stories might you fertilize?
  • Which stories must you seed for your garden to thrive? 
  • How might you create space around some stories, and perhaps provide support structures, so they can rise toward the light?
  • What stories stand out as bright and colorful focal points?
  • Which stories must you weed so that the other stories grow?
  • How can you cover the surface so that the weeds don’t reemerge?
  • Are new stories emerging at the edges of your Narrative Garden?
  • What patterns and themes exist across your landscape?  
  • How can you invite participation and accountability among team members?

Thaler Pekar & Partners is internationally-recognized for its deep expertise in narrative, story, and communication. Both the BBC and the Smithsonian Institution have hailed the founder, Thaler Pekar, as one of the world’s leading experts on institutional storytelling.

For 14 years, the team at Thaler Pekar & Partners has advised visionaries on being understood and influential. Our trademarked communication processes — Heart, Head, & Hand®, Engagement Equation® and Invitational Incline® — provide leaders with the confidence to speak, listen, and be heard, and sustain them in offering effective motivation. As a result, teams are more productive, audiences are more receptive, and visibility increases.

Our award-winning work ranges from gathering 178 oral histories across four continents and six countries for Chuck Feeney’s The Atlantic Philanthropies; to finding and refining stories about integrity for Novartis senior leadership; to coaching a mainstage TED Talker; and to developing a communication and story skills academy for L’Oreál International Educators and Customer Representatives.