Rashomon (1950) is a critically acclaimed popular Japanese movie. It is the story of a woman’s rape and the murder of a man told from four different perspectives: The woman, the rapist, the dead man, and a witness to the crime. The four accounts are narrated in flashback and contradict each other in several ways. None of the accounts can be fully true, yet the four characters in the story seem to believe in their own story.
The movie is slow, but engaging. It is interesting to watch four people offer such varied accounts of what is apparently the same event. The business world (and organizational life in general) is full of such multi-perspective stories. A number of scholars have written about business as sense-making, i.e. our recollection of any incident is influenced by how we make sense of it. Consider, the recent Microsoft-Yahoo-Google ‘love triangle’. We all know that Microsoft bid for Yahoo, which Yahoo refused and Google opposed. But what happened behind the scenes, why did Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo behave the way they did, who finally won and who lost are questions whose answers will be different based on who is answering them and what his or her vantage point is.
In all, a classic movie to talk about sense-making and narratives (Of course, it needs to be remembered that the movie is in Japanese!)