Stories Accelerate Learning

June 19, 2002

in Brand Futures, Social Networks, Storytelling

Another positing from the online converation with Terrence L. Gargiulo and Making Stories A Practical Guide for Organizational Leaders and Human Resource Specialists.

Stories help learning when they stimulate and shape conversation. Stories that are part of a network conversational exchange really accelerate learning. Thus one on one storytelling has no where near the same impact as collective story-making. The latter brings a real sense of ownership and understanding. Some call this “the art of the strategic conversation”.
The interest in business story-telling seems to coincide with an increase in uncertainty in the workplace. Similarly as we move to more networked org forms, we need to enrich the pipes (info flows) without overloading everyone with data.

The book Future Search has a wonderful story – timeline exercise in the beginning of the book. It builds a collective sense of where we have come from, our organization, and the world around us. Individuals post their events on the three timelines and three groups typically report back, with a story about the people in the room, and how the organization and world has changed and impacted on us collectively. This rapidly establishes a collective story about the past for any group.

Stories being posed for the future may entertain more debate. One of the reasons I became a passionate scenarist was seeing too many organizations fall over a single vision / story for the future. A story that is too structured limits learning. Successful strategies and stories are often the result of unintended consequences.

Today innovation rules – stories / rapid conversations and learning are an essential part of the prototyping process which leads to markets. Actually, stories don’t accelerate learning, “insights” accelerate learning. However, stories may frame the connection that enable new insights.

For example there have been stories around TIVO, online music sharing, satellite, cable TV and perceptions of where they are going. Recently they were reframed — File-Served TV — a new vision & direction. Except I doubt this is the end of the story……. That in itself is both refective and iterative.

I’d be interested in the contrast between a world in which story-telling was between cave-dwellers and in today’s – tomorrow’s highly networked world. Are effective stories synthesized now rather than told? Similarly, is “chat” creating a new framework for the realtime story? What happens if a leader isn’t in the “chat” group?

Previous post:

Next post: