cultivating story richness: principles, practices and techniques

Download Cultivating Story Richness: Principles, Practices and Techniques

Post on 30-Oct-2014

506 views

Category:

Documents

1 download

Embed Size (px)

DESCRIPTION

Stories are rich in nature. This richness goes beyond painting a compelling picture. Of course a picture is worth a thousand words and a story is worth a thousand pictures. Details saturate stories with enticing shelves and drawers for people to explore. Yet this is just one form of story richness. Story richness also shows up in some surprising ways.

TRANSCRIPT

CULTIVATINGSTORYRICHNESSTerrenceL.Gargiulo,MMHS,terrence@makingstories.net

Areyouawareofanyassumptionsyoumayhaveabouthowtoworkwithstories?Takea momentandconsiderwhatyouregardaseffectiveformsofcommunication.Aretherecertain principlesyoufollow?Doyouintendtofollowtheseprincipleswhendesigningcommunications withstories? Storiesarerichinnature.Thisrichnessgoesbeyondpaintingacompellingpicture.Ofcoursea pictureisworthathousandwordsandastoryisworthathousandpictures.Detailssaturate storieswithenticingshelvesanddrawersforpeopletoexplore.Yetthisisjustoneformofstory richness.Storyrichnessalsoshowsupinsomesurprisingways.

2012MAKINGSTORIES.net,TerrenceL.Gargiulo,www.makingstories.net,terrence@makingstories.net4159488087,pg.1

Storiesencodeinformation.Thatcanbeadoubleedged sword.Oneedgeoftheswordcutsthroughinformation clutter.Ourstoriesmakemessagesmemorableandhelpus connectwitheachother.Messagesbecomeimbuedwith meaning.Yetthisabilityofstoriestoencodeinformation canalsoslashus.Dowewanttorelegateourmessagesto duelslimitedtoonewaythrustswithoutparriesandthrusts fromourrecipients? Inourhands,dothelayered,onionliketendenciesofrich storiesthrivewithusasmastersoftheirdestiny?Imafraid wehavehorriblehabitofenslavingstoriestooperateinthe samemannerweworkwithotherformsofcommunication. Itseasytodepriveourselvesthedeeprichnessofstories.Communicationperpetuatesamyth ofstrivingfortheHolyGrailofclarity.Weareenamoredwiththeillusionandimportanceof exactitude.Ourmessagesmustbepreciseandleavelittleroomforinterpretation.Anythingless isafailureofcommunication;especiallyinbusinesssettingswheretoleranceforambiguityis paidlipservicebutpushedbeneaththesurface. Besuspiciousofgoodcommunicationpracticeswhenworkingwithstories.Doesthatsound preposterous?Itmayseemcounterintuitivebuttherearewholedifferentsetof communication,learningandthinkingrulesoperatingwithstorybasedcommunications.Justas Newtonianphysicsaccountforhowweinteractwithphysicalmatterandquantummechanical lawspredictphenomenaonthesubatomiclevel,goodcommunicationpracticesoperate differentlybetweentraditionalandstoriedbasedones.Table1summarizesthesedifferences.

TABLES1:

COMPARISIONOFTRADITIONALFORMSOFCOMMUNICATIONWITHSTORY BASEDONESStory-Based Communications Implicit information is encoded in packets of compelling and memorable nuggets.

More Traditional Forms of Communication Explicit information is presented in a direct, precise and clear manner.

Logical information is organized in an easy to follow linear fashion.

Evocative information is more emotional in nature and lends itself to less structured types of presentations (including non-linear threads that can be followed and navigated based on peoples needs and interests).

2012MAKINGSTORIES.net,TerrenceL.Gargiulo,www.makingstories.net,terrence@makingstories.net4159488087,pg.2

More Traditional Forms of Communication Controlled information is structured to leave as little as possible to peoples interpretation.

Story-Based Communications Emergent information is meant to trigger peoples experiences, personal associations, and linkages.

Sense Giving information is used to minimize uncertainty by offering tangible and discernable chunks of meaning.

Sense Making information requires people to generate more of their own meaning and in some instances may leave people feeling uncertain as to the nature of the information until they make sense of it for themselves.

BearinmindbothcolumnsinTable1arecriticaltothesuccessofeffectiveorganizational communications.Itsjustwetendtothinkofstoriesasanothertooloperatinginthefirst column;weneedtounderstandthatstoriesoperatebestwhentheyactasstimuliasopposed toinformationcontainers. Storiesachievetheirgreatestpunchwhentheyareusedtocreateinterlockingwebsof meaning.Astoryusedasasolitarychunkofcommunicationisfarlesseffectivethanwhenwe findinnovativewaystostringassociationsofstoriestogether.Ifonestorypaintsapowerful picturewhatwillseveralwellintegratedstoriesdo,especiallyifweinvitepeopletococreate themwithus? Thinkofstorybasedcommunicationstrategiesascloudchambersinyourorganization CloudChamberapparatusthatdetectshighenergyparticlespassingthrougha supersaturatedvapor;eachparticleionizesmoleculesalongitspathandsmalldroplets condenseonthemtoproduceavisibletrack(definitioncourtesyofwww.answer.com)

Itsnotasobtuseofananalogyasitmightappear.Storiesactasorganizationalcloudchambers. Theycreateaspaceofdialogueandsensemaking.Thisstoryspaceiswherepeopleinteract witheachothersstoriesindifferentways.Someinteractionsmightoccuraspeoplereflectand reacttoorganizationalcollateralspepperedwithstories,someinteractionsmighthappenwhen wecreateformalandinformalopportunitiesforpeopletorespondtothestoriesweuseto incitedialogue,andstillotherinteractions,oncewehaveputtheinitialstoriesoutthere,will2012MAKINGSTORIES.net,TerrenceL.Gargiulo,www.makingstories.net,terrence@makingstories.net4159488087,pg.3

happenwithoutusdoinganythingwhatsoevertoorchestratethem.Asstorieselicitmore storiesbybouncingoffofeachother,organizationaltrajectoriesofmeaningandunderstanding emerge.Peoplesactionsprovideavisiblealbeitsubtleandghostlytraceoftheimpactofstory basedcommunications. Storiesarenotanotherleverinamachine.Machinesorsystemstakeknowncontrolledinputs thatproducereliableandconsistentoutputs.Storiesaremorechaotic.Onceyoustirupor perturbatethesocialfabricofindividualnodesofsensemaking(akathepeopleinan organization)unexpectedbehaviorsemerge.Whatislostincontrolisgainedinthepropagating strengthofthecommunicationsignalandtherollingwavesofselfdirectedbehaviorsithasthe potentialtocreate.Communicationsfunctionlesslikeinstructionsandmorelikepictureframes waitingtobefilledwithcollagesofvibrantphotographs.

Bewareofapplyingtherulesoftraditionalcommunicationtostorybasedones.Thisis evidencedbyhowpeopleplanwrittenandoralcommunicationswithstories.Arestoriesbeing outfittedtocarrykeymessages?Arestoriesbeingreducedtothesimpleststrongestmessage todrivehomepoints?Istheeffectivenessofacommunicationjudgedonthebasisofhowwell thekeymessagesarecarriedbyastory?Unlessweareconcernedwithpassingonmorals, storiesarealwaysmorefocusedonlistenersthantheyareontellers.Wetellstoriestoincite otherstories. Storiesworkbecauseoftheirimprecisenature. Imaginestoriesasabagofavarietyofwildflower seeds.Listenersandreadersarelikethefertilesoil anxiousfornewseeds.Wereachintoourbagand grabahandfulofseeds.Whatflowerstakeholdand whatflowersultimatelybloomareunpredictable. Ourjobasstorycommunicatorsistounleash possibilities.Thespecificsofourmessagesandtheir significancearedecodedbyreceivers.Inkeeping withthegardenmetaphor,meaningemergesby attachingitselftothepersonaltrellisesof experiences.

2012MAKINGSTORIES.net,TerrenceL.Gargiulo,www.makingstories.net,terrence@makingstories.net4159488087,pg.4

Heresanotheranalogy.StoriesarelikeDNA.Whatamiracle. Lifeassertsitselfintwistingbondsofpairedbuildingblocks thatareresponsibleforexpressingeverythingweknowas organiclife.Fromsimplicityemergescomplexity.Eventhe processoftranscriptioncannotbereducedtoasingular repeatableeventthatyieldsthesameresulteachtime.As DNAcopiesitselfvariationsandmutationsoccur.Evenwhen exactreplicationtakesplacemorphologiesareexpressedin thephenotypicexpressionofaDNAcodebaseasitis actualizedintheenvironment. Attheircorestoriesareaboutmeaning.Itsimpossibletoseparatesensemakingfromsense giving.Weentwinefragmentsofourunderstandingoftheworldinstories.Thesestories inhabitourconsciousandunconsciousawareness.Thecontrolaffordedtousbystoriesinthe formoffuelingourunderstandingisatbestadoorwayorahandletoopeningadoorfor someoneelse.Weofferoursensemakingtoothersintheformofstoriessensegiving.Forus itsseamless;weexperiencethiscycleofsensegivingandsensemakingasoneactofcreation. Asgoodstorybasedcommunicatorswemustfightournaturaltendencytoforgetthatothers areresponsiblefortheirsensemaking.

Stories engage and invite sense making with others. With storybased communications we are not prescribing meaning with stories. Nor are we seeking compliance of understanding. We are seeking peoples commitments. Storiesengageandinvitesensemakingwithothers.Withstorybasedcommunicationsweare notprescribingmeaningwithstories.Norareweseekingcomplianceofunderstanding.Weare seekingpeoplescommitments.Thiscommitmentwillbeevidencedintheirunique reconfigurationofthemessageinpersonalterms.Inotherwordssomethingnewiscreated. WearenotXeroxingorcopyingourcommunicationinthesamewayasacomputerchipmight beimplantedinonedevicetoanothertoachieveequalperformance.

2012MAKINGSTORIES.net,TerrenceL.Gargiulo,www.makingstories.net,terrence@makingstories.net4159488087,pg.5

Whatdoesthismeanthenforhowweincorporatestoriesintowrittenandoral communications? Castyourstorynetwide.Thestrengthofyourstorybasedcommunicationcanbeassessedby examiningthenumberandtypeofstoryconnectionscontainedwithinit.Storyconnections refertothepresenceofstoryformsfoundinyourcommunications.SeeTable2foraworking listofstoryconnections. Table 2: Working List of Story-Connections Type of Story-Connection 1. None 2. Analogical Guiding Question Does my story stand alone? Does my story contain other sources of imagery? a. Analogies b. Metaphors c. Allusions d. Similes e. Clichs f. Humor 3. Embedded Stories 4. Linkages 5. Bridges Does my story contain other stories within it? Does my story reference or point to other stories within it without these stories being fully expressed? Does my story contain a collage of stories woven together? This differs from embedded stories since the stories are collapsed or shortened. They are more skeletonlike in nature. Anecdotes are an example. (see Chapter 17: Story Collaging) *Note: On a scale of 0-5, where 0=no value, and 5=the greatest value. Value of StoryConnection*

0

4 3 4 2 1 2 5 4 5

Thischecklistismeantasaguideline.Italsocontainsmybiases.Iamnotafanofstandalone stories.Notbecauseth