A Useful Framework for Interpreting Success Stories
Recently, I had the pleasure of reading Work Is Work, an essay by Coda Hale on organizational design. Aside from providing a thought-provoking perspective on scaling organizational efforts, the post makes reference to two terms from anthropological field research that were new to me: emic and etic. Below, I’ll describe how these terms provide a useful framework for interpreting success stories.
Emic and Etic
When we read success stories, we often do so to help narrow down the solution space for a problem we’re facing. During that process, it can sometimes be easy to lose track of how important details of the story (its plot, setting, actors, etc.) are different from ours.
This framework has been valuable to me in two ways. It:
- Provides shorthand terms for what are otherwise relatively difficult concepts to communicate.