Tuesday, June 16, 2009

StoryMatters - Season 2: Episode 6

Increasing Your ROI on Life's Lessons at Work
Terrence Gargiulo (MAKINGSTORIES.net) & Brian Remer (thefirefly.org)

StoryMatters is a format for maximizing learning from experience and applying it in the workplace. Stories are used to spark deeper conversations creating multiple layers of meaning that have relevance to team members. The StoryMatters process promotes a culture of continuous learning within an organization by modeling the skills of advocacy and inquiry. In this way, StoryMatters can become an invaluable tool for any learning organization.

StoryMatters: The Process

I. Read or tell three 99 word stories – these stories act as triggers to spark listeners' imaginations
II. Listeners recapitulate the stories to find index words that capture the essence of the stories
III. Listeners leverage the index words to find personal stories along the same theme
IV. Those stories are shared and people hearing them share their reactions
V. Conclude with a dialog and conversation of themes and relationships between stories

StoryMatters: Why it's Effective

• Stories are a common form of communication – people do not notice how often they tell stories – and how comfortable they are with stories.

• In conversation, we get ideas of our own stories but we don’t drill deep enough to derive much meaning from them.

• Offers a framework and format for active reflection and learning

• People react to the stories and build upon them

• Creating a story space heightens the possibility to make more stories present

• It’s the reflection of two or more people that makes the process work

• Stories don’t have to be complete with beginning, middle end – especially when the stories are collaged or combined

• Single stories have the danger of becoming one-dimensional and trite like Chicken Soup for the Soul.

• Only by putting stories together do you develop a three dimensional space of shared meaning

• The format gives everybody a chance to talk. This doesn’t always happen in conversation – even with just two people

StoryMatters: Tips and Tricks

• Use three or more stories to provide enough triggers for a rich conversation*

• Keep stories short, share the air time

• Leave stories open ended, avoid moralizing or insisting on a particular interpretation

• Give people time and space to develop their index words

• Leave 'em hungry, you don't have to tie up every loose end. People will continue the conversations that are meaningful to them off line.

• Be comfortable with ambiguity, trust that the time spent will be meaningful even if you don't know exactly where it will end up

What Do We Mean By Indexing

Stories are tagged with meta-data. Our experiences are stored in our minds as stories.
Loosely speaking, these stories have labels associated with them. Facilitating with stories requires us to be aware of how stories are triggered. The StoryMatters process stimulates people’s indexing schemes. It will help them expand their index and at other times to help them use their index scheme to relate their story to other stories. When our experiences are well indexed, we are able to see connections and relationships more easily. A strong index functions like a hub. New experiences and other people’s stories can be quickly plugged in. This of course leads to insights that can result in performance improvements.

So Why Three or More Short Stories

Stories in isolation are of limited value. Emergent sense-making is engaged by the interaction and inter-relationship between stories. The richness of stories and the insights to be gained are produced by the crisscrossing pattern of stories being related to one another.

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