Storytelling Session Ideas #WorkingOutLoud

I was asked to sketch up some ideas for a session on ‘storytelling’, and thought that i’d share some of the ideas here, as part of #WorkingOutLoud. These are just sketches, outline ideas, at this stage, although some are exercises i’ve run often.

Storytelling Ideas

Activity: Where are the stories?

Exercise to capture all the places that stories flow: formal channels, emails, WhatsApp groups, conversations over lunch etc

Categorise with tags for: formal, social,

Explore, the following factors for each:
1. Who owns the story
2. Where is it shared
3. How can people respond to it
4. Do they have an ‘awarded’, or ‘claimed’ permission

Activity: Cultural Graffiti

In known and permitted spaces, we hear ‘heard’ stories. But where is the cultural graffiti? Where do stories of dissent and subversion lie?

In this activity, we explore ‘graffiti’, how it’s used as a ‘claimed voice’, and where we think it sits within the organisation.

We explore:

1. How consequence can silence the stories we need to hear
2. How permission can be claimed when it is not given
3. Anonymity in storytelling
4. Silencing stories, and how it rarely works

Activity: Narrative and Story

Drawing on the Social Leadership work, in this section, we explore the difference between ‘narrative’, which is the underlying structure, and ‘story’, which is the picture we paint upon it. For example, we could both tell a story about ‘Leadership’, but we would both use different words, even to describe the same thing. Leaders need to understand when it’s important that their ‘story’ is shared, verbatim, and when it’s just the narrative that needs to spread.

We explore:

1. How trying to ‘own’ a story, when we simply need to share a narrative, can enable us to relinquish some control
2. How some stories grow stronger through the retelling
3. How we can use ‘narrative’ and ‘story’ to help us shape more compelling tales

Activity: Social Filtering and Amplification

Understanding how stories are filtered and spread: this looks at the magnetism of the story, considers relevance and timeliness, and how well ‘packaged’ a narrative is to be shared.

We explore:

1. The sense making function of communities
2. Nodes and amplifiers in the network
3. Amplification effects and radical amplification
4. Signal vs noise, and how we can cut the static

Activity: Authenticity

Groups seem to deem ‘authenticity’ in storytelling as key: so where do these leaders think authenticity comes from, and how can their earn it?

This activity sees the group identifying strong social figures, and describing the source of their authenticity. We also consider how authenticity can be shattered, and the consequence of it breaking

We explore:

1. Personal authenticity
2. Organisational authenticity
3. The perils of betrayal and failure
4. Time as a factor of authenticity

Activity: Story Listening

Considers how we hear stories, and the ways that we can acknowledge, respect, recognise, or thank people, for them. Specifically, it looks at how ‘story listening’ is a key skill for Social Leadership.

We explore:

1. Social recognition and reward
2. The power of pride
3. Respectful disagreement
4. Cultural diversity

Activity: Diagonal Storytelling

Consider how stories can be co-created through different levels of the organisation: how we move beyond our close tribe, to create and hear broad narratives, at scale.

We consider:

1. How stories spread along lines of trust (horizontal more than vertical)
2. The benefits of diagonal storytelling, and techniques to enable it

Activity: Stories of Difference

This is a specific storytelling approach that seeks not to drive consensus, but rather to capture, narrate, and expand out, our areas of dissent. It looks at practically how we can do this, and how we can engage with respect to hear those stories with which we have no agreement.

We consider:

1. How stories of difference are written
2. Respectful disagreement
3. Defining our problem space
4. Agreeing to dissent
5. Finding boundaries of agreement


About julianstodd

A learning and development professional specialising in e-learning and learning technology.
This entry was posted in Storytelling and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s