Published on May 8, 2014
Using stories in your organisation Patricia McMillan Meaning Works email@example.com
introduction: why stories? 03 table of contents process overview: how it works 04 steps in the process: a closer look05 13 contact information
3 why stories? Stories are an incredibly powerful means for spreading ideas and for connecting people with one another. Real stories about the experiences of your customers, your team, your partner organisations, and your stakeholders, resonate with people in a way that data and information don’t. People pay attention to stories. They remember them, learn from them, and tell them to other people. Often the only time people even raise their heads from their laptop screens during a presentation is when the speaker is telling a story. Because we naturally think in story, you can be assured that people both inside and outside your organisation are already telling stories about you to themselves and to others. Wouldn’t you like to find out what these stories are so you can foster the positive ones and remedy the negative ones? Wouldn’t you like to offer compelling stories about your organisation that your customers, team, and stakeholders will want to share? introduction The next pages outline a process for using stories in your organisation. © Patricia McMillan 2014
4 how it works © Patricia McMillan 2014 spread the stories craft & shape stories make sense of stories find & collect stories identify purpose process overview Whatever your purpose in using stories, the steps are similar. Different groups of people may be involved at each step.
steps in the process a closer look
6 stories can help you to… identify your purpose ✔ Forge and share a common vision Your strategic story is an essential part of your strategic plan. Discover what has defined your organisation in the past, where you are now, and what kind of future you want to create. ✔ Demonstrate the value you provide Work in technology and research is often abstract. It can be difficult to describe what you do in a way that resonates with your customers and stakeholders. Real stories of how your work has impact will demonstrate the value you provide in a way numbers alone can’t. ✔ Foster relationships and collaboration The empathy generated by sharing your experiences creates a strong, effective workplace – a place where people want to work. Stories can foster collaboration and strengthen relationships among teams, customers, and partner organisations. ✔ Transmit your values and culture Do you want everyone in your organisation to delight your customers, go beyond the ordinary, or create effective partnerships? Find out what’s really happening now and start telling the stories that exemplify the values you want to spread. ✔ Share knowledge A collection of stories about how people in your organisation have solved complex problems is more effective than any training manual. © Patricia McMillan 2014
7 the initial meeting We’ll meet to talk about the purpose for which you’d like to use stories in your organisation. It’s likely to be one of the reasons on the previous page, or perhaps a combination. At that time we’ll also identify who should be involved at each step in the process, and what types of outcomes you’d like to see. Once we’ve done that, we can work out a plan for the remaining steps. plan purpose who should be involved desired outcomes identify your purpose © Patricia McMillan 2014
8 story circles or interviews Next we need to find some stories to work with—the real ones that are already out there. The plan tells us who we need to get them from: team members, customers, or other stakeholders, for example. We collect the stories through a series of story circles (like focus groups) or one-on-one interviews. We use story prompts to bring out the stories of what happened, rather than generalisations. We record these sessions, send them to be transcribed, and start a collection, or story bank. group 1 Tell me about a time when… What happened? group 2 What challenge were you facing? What did you do? group 3 Can you remember an example of… What was the outcome? find and collect stories © Patricia McMillan 2014
9 workshop to look at common themes Now that we have a collection of stories, we need to bring key people together to look at them. We’ll pick out common themes, and we’ll sort the stories into categories: those you want to build on because they support your purpose, those that are not useful at this time, and those that identify something requiring action. Stories often reveal things you didn’t expect and weren’t looking for, such as places where a process could be simplified. Finding out what is really happening in this way provides opportunities for innovating and improving your organisation. make sense of the stories Stories to build on Opportunity Opportunity © Patricia McMillan 2014
10 storytelling workshop With a set of real stories that align with your purpose, it’s time to craft them into a version you’re ready to go out and tell. You may want to distribute the stories in a number of ways, including in written or video format, but to spread them most effectively, it’s important to be able to tell them in person. This workshop will give you the understanding and practice you need to develop and tell your stories confidently in a meeting or presentation. We’ll look at why stories work, what elements need to go into a story, and where to place stories in relation to more analytical content. We’ll develop your selected stories and give you the opportunity to practise telling them. craft and shape stories why stories work story elements crafting the story stories & data telling the story listening for stories © Patricia McMillan 2014
11 formats and channels In this final stage, we’ll create a plan for spreading your crafted stories so that everyone is connected to them. You’re ready to tell them informally in person, but you may also want to work them into more formal presentations. You may want to write them up for your website or for collateral you distribute. You may want to create videos featuring the stories. We’ll talk about the possibilities and create a plan that you can execute on your own or that we can work on together. spread the stories your stories talks website video social media documents meetings © Patricia McMillan 2014
People change what they do less because they are given analysis that shifts their thinking, than because they are shown a truth that influences their feelings. John P Kotter The Heart of Change
tap the power of story for more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org m www.patriciamcmillan.com +61 434 602 050 meaning works
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