Organizational Storytelling


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A presentation for the KPLA/KLTRT 2012 Conference, Bowling Green, KY

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  • 3:30-3:35 Introduction/StoryChris and giving notice
  • 3:35-3:40
  • 3:40This graphic is from a great business/technology/education/communication website called themoleskin.comThis idea of “unification” was first discuss in Aristotle’s Poetics. good story is unified and focuses on an extended action with a beginning, middle and end.Traditional – The traditional 3 act structure has a beginning, middle and end. The key to using this structure in a business setting is a well defined inciting event, protagonist and climax. Those elements will drive your story.The Hero’s Quest – The quest is probably the most commonly understood structure. A hero faces a challenge and sets out to overcome the challenge. The driving force in this structure is the pursuit of the goal whether it is tangible or intangible.The Search – The search is about man’s search for meaning. It differs from the hero’s quest in that the goal in these stories is always a character’s search for the discovery of something fundamental about who they are or who they will become.Stranger In A Strange Land – This is a story of change. The hero is put into a new situation. Maybe they don’t know the local ‘rules’ or customs. Everything seems unfamiliar. The character spends the majority of the story getting accustomed to their new surroundings or circumstances. In most cases the hero learns in the end that the ‘strange land’ wasn’t that strange after all.Boy Meets Girl (Romance) – This one is simple – boy meets girl, boys falls in love…but then what? Since stories need tension to move forward the “but then what…” part is really what drives this type of story. What roadblocks, conflicts, or obstacles stand in the way of the two lovers in the story? The key to remember in constructing these stories is love is hard to find and if you do find it, it’s hard to keep.Coming Of Age (Transformation) – A coming of age story is ultimately about the change, transformation or maturation of the character. In this type of story the character has to re-learn comfort as they near maturity. That character may change significantly during the course of the story or simple figure out they somehow knew the answers all along. The experiences they gain drive the story.
  • 3:40The throughline:The main character succeeds (through courage, ingenuity, special skill, special weapon)The main character fails (through circumstances, weakness, obsession)The main character abandons the goalThe main character’s goal is undefinedThe audience creates the goal
  • 3:45For those that believe it to be a powerful managerial tool, it is seen as the key leadershipcompetency for the 21st century. Knowing how to deliver a story effectively combined with knowing the right story to tell is a powerful influencing and communication skill. It can be used to connect employees to strategy by providing understanding, belief and ultimately motivation in the personal contribution that employees can make. Several books and articles have been written from this perspective. Besides an essential leadership competency for all leaders it is also a powerful communication and change management technique.
  • 3:50-3:55
  • 3:55-4:05
  • 4:05
  • 3:55-4:00Main point is that facts don’t always do the best job of winning people over or persuading them. In fact (no pun intended) emotionally based stories can have a much bigger impact than a traditional argument or plain facts.Who I amThe first question people ask themselves the minute they realize you want to influencethem is “who is this person?” A story helps them see what you want them to see aboutyou.Personal stories let others see “who” we are better than any other form ofcommunication. A “who I am” story can break through negative opinions by disprovingone of them right up front. It begins to merge into the next kind of story you need to tell,the “why I am here” story. Even if your listener decides you are a trustworthy humanbeing, they still wonder what’s in it for you to get their cooperation. And until they havea good answer, they will tend to assume that you have more to gain than they do –otherwise, why are you trying to influence them?Why I Am HerePeople won’t cooperate with you if they smell a rat and most of us sniff for rats and aresuspicious of hidden agendas. When you focus all your communication on showing yourlistener what he might gain, you come across as hiding your gain. Your message beginsto seem incongruent, insincere, or worse, deceitful. If people think you are hiding orlying about what you stand to gain from their cooperation, their trust in your messageplummets.The VisionIf your listener(s) are comfortable with who you are and why you are here, then they areready to listen to what you think is in it for them. I don’t think anyone sets out toinfluence others without the understanding that we need to demonstrate some benefit ofcompliance – some “what’s in it for them.”If you want to influence others in a big way, you need to give them a vision story thatwill become their cathedral. A vision story weaves all the pieces together – particularlythe struggles and the frustrations – so that they make sense. A vision story is the antidoteto meaningless frustration. To live in this world with purpose and meaning we must tellourselves some story of vision that gives our struggle meaningTeachingWhatever your role in life, you have certain skills that you want others to have, too.Whether you need to teach someone how to write a letter, design software, answer atelephone, make a sale or mange a group of volunteers, story halves the necessaryteaching time. Too many people get mad at those they wish to teach because “they justdon’t get it.” Rather than banging your head against a wall, why don’t you find a storythat successfully delivers whatever it is you want them to “get.” Often the message youwant to send is less about what you want them to do and more about how you want itdone. Story is perfectly suited to combine both what and how.Teaching stories help us make sense of new skills in meaningful ways. You never teacha skill that doesn’t have a reason “why.” When someone understands what you wantthem to do but doesn’t buy into why you want them to do it, you never will be satisfiedwith their performance. Clarity is overrated in teaching. Story allows you to reintroducecomplexity over tidy “skill-set modules” so that the skills you teach also teach people tothink about why and how they might use a new skill.Values-in-actionpeople thinking for themselves. “We value integrity,” means nothing. But tell a storyabout a former employee who his mistake and cost the company thousands, or a storyabout a salesperson who owned up to a mistake and earned so much trust her customerdoubles his order, and you begin to teach an employee what integrity means.If you wish to influence an individual or a group to embrace a particular value in theirdaily lives, tell them a compelling story. Values are meaningless without stories to bringthem to life and engage us on a personal level. And personal stories are the best way toengage people at a personal level.I Know What You are ThinkingWhen you tell a story that makes people wonder if you are reading their minds, they loveit. It isn’t hard to do. If you have done your homework on the group or person you wishto influence it is relatively easy to identify their potential objections to your message. Ifyou name their objections first, you are that much closer to disarming them.One of the best ways to use this kind of story is to dispel fears. Before you facilitate acommittee meeting, tell the group about the time you were on the “committee from hell”that was more like a dodgeball game than a work group. Tell about the specificbehaviors and characters, like the guy resembling Napoleon who cut everyone off, andthe sweet southern lady who charm did not quite hide her insincerity. Whatever yourstory is, and we all have one, your story will let the audience know that you want to avoidthe same things they want to avoid. Once they know that, they can relax and listen.
  • 4:00-4:10p. 84
  • 4:10
  • 4:15-4:20Post onSlideShare
  • Organizational Storytelling

    1. 1. Jennifer Bartlett, University of Kentucky LibrariesKPLA/KLTRT 2012 Spring Conference
    2. 2.  Elements of good stories Why we should use storytelling in our organizations The six stories you need to know how to tell Storytelling techniques and examples KPLA/KLTRT 2012 Spring Conference April 12, 2012
    3. 3. What makes for a good story?The Boyhood of Raleigh by Sir John Everett Millais, oil on canvas, 1870 KPLA/KLTRT 2012 Spring Conference April 12, 2012
    4. 4. Event Climax MiddleBeginning End Throughline: Answering the core question KPLA/KLTRT 2012 Spring Conference April 12, 2012
    5. 5. Event Climax MiddleBeginning End Throughline: Answering the core question KPLA/KLTRT 2012 Spring Conference April 12, 2012
    6. 6. Knowing the right story to tell + Telling the story effectively To:  Influence decision making  Navigate change Interpret the past and shape the future  Communicate values KPLA/KLTRT 2012 Spring Conference April 12, 2012
    7. 7.  Who are we as an organization? What do we stand for? Who knows about it? Expressed values and “values-in-action” need to be the same. KPLA/KLTRT 2012 Spring Conference April 12, 2012
    8. 8. COLLEGIALITY· We value cooperation and collaboration.· We commit to creating an environment that encourages collegiality.CREATIVITY· We value innovative ideas and flexible solutions.· We commit to providing resources for life-long learning.INTEGRITY· We value open and honest communication.· We commit to the highest standards of personal and professional integrity.· We value the trust placed in us by our colleagues and users.SERVICE· We value those we serve.· We commit to quality services that meet or exceed our users expectations.· We serve library employees as well as our users.RESPECT· We value the importance of every individual.· We commit to an open, accepting, and diverse environment.· We treat users and employees with kindness, consideration and compassion. UK Libraries Mission Statement, KPLA/KLTRT 2012 Spring Conference April 12, 2012
    9. 9.  What are 5-10 pivotal events in your library’s history? Who are your library’s heroes? What key values or characteristics of your library are highlighted in your stories? Are there any physical objects or artifacts important to your narrative? What crisis events or stories are important? KPLA/KLTRT 2012 Spring Conference April 12, 2012
    10. 10.  What was one of your happiest days at work? Your unhappiest? What makes your feel proud and/or fulfilled to work in a library? Have you ever had to resolve a conflict between two values? How did you do that? KPLA/KLTRT 2012 Spring Conference April 12, 2012
    11. 11. 1. Who I Am stories2. Why I Am Here stories3. The Vision stories4. Teaching stories5. Values-in-action stories6. I Know What You Are Thinking stories From Annette Simmons, The Story Factor KPLA/KLTRT 2012 Spring Conference April 12, 2012
    12. 12. 1. Who I Am2. Why I Am Here3. The Vision4. Teaching5. Values-in-action6. I Know What You Are Thinking KPLA/KLTRT 2012 Spring Conference April 12, 2012
    13. 13.  1. Believe in the story - tell stories that you like. 2. Take the time to prepare. 3. Make the story as long as necessary, but not too long – don’t hesitate to remove the slow parts. 4. Use good pacing – allow the audience time to absorb the story. 5. Make eye contact with your listeners. 6. Avoid "moral of the story" finishes. Also see “Storytelling Tips” from Sean Buvala at KPLA/KLTRT 2012 Spring Conference April 12, 2012
    14. 14.  Denning, Stephen. The Springboard: How Storytelling Ignites Action in Knowledge-Era Organizations (Boston: Butterworth- Heinemann, 2001) Marek, Kate. Organizational Storytelling for Librarians: Using Stories for Effective Leadership (Chicago: ALA, 2011) Simmons, Annette. The Story Factor: Inspiration, Influence, and Persuasion through the Art of Storytelling (Cambridge, MA: Perseus, 2001) KPLA/KLTRT 2012 Spring Conference April 12, 2012
    15. 15.  Golden Fleece Group Storytelling: Passport to the 21st Century The Moleskin: think, try, teach KPLA/KLTRT 2012 Spring Conference April 12, 2012
    16. 16. Jennifer BartlettHead of Reference ServicesUniversity of Kentucky Librariesjen.bartlett@uky.eduThis presentation is available on slideshare at KPLA/KLTRT 2012 Spring Conference April 12, 2012