The Opportunities of Narrative: How Storytelling Leads to Change


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From the event description: "How do you create opportunities through narrative? How do understand your own story, frame your own story, and communicate your own story? Whether you're in business, philanthropy, media, or the social sector, this is the way to work in the 21st century."

(Note: These slides are revised and annotated.)

Published in: Business

The Opportunities of Narrative: How Storytelling Leads to Change

  1. 1. The Opportunities of Narrative: How Storytelling Leads to Change annotated and revised slides Centre for Social Innovation | New York | 9 December 2013
  2. 2. Let’s start with a supposition... CULTURE + STORYTELLING are connective tissue that binds us together as humans
  3. 3. and another... movements + campaigns + projects + social enterprises need + cohesive narrative + shared goals + common identity + networked response + local connection / global amplification + ethics framework
  4. 4. With those two suppositions as a basis, let’s talk about... Power of Narrative Narrative Power
  5. 5. Power of Narrative Narrative Power Engagement Framing Surface Area | Entry Points Political | Social | Cultural Design and Innovation A Seat At the Table
  6. 6. Power of Narrative Narrative Power Setting a Cultural Stage to Cultivate Impact Humanization of Issues Shifts in Perception Calls to Action (Measurable) Impact
  7. 7. Power of Narrative Narrative Power In a world moving toward big data, creative media and cultural expression have the power to contextualize human need and experience and catalyze change.
  8. 8. Roots of Strategic Narrative Design Design CommunityCenteredness User-Centered Design Design Thinking User Experience Systemic/Systems Change Transmedia Storytelling Social Change Leadership Local Voice Humanizing Social Issues Interactivity Social Movements Activist Media Social Innovation Novel solution to a social problem that is more effective, efficient, sustainable, or just than existing solutions
  9. 9. Transmedia Activism Framework for strategy to - Create social impact - Influence perception - Build community through fragmented storytelling by authors, stakeholders, and communities who share assets + create entry points into issues and solutions across multiple forms of media
  10. 10. Why is This Important? + How to Tell a Story Together + How to Tell a Story of Complexity | Ecosystems + How to Tell a Story Based in Reality or Imagination (but always based on stories of individuals) + How to Drive and Assess (qualitative) Impact
  11. 11. Why is This Important? Audiences Communities Awareness  Engagement  Action  Change Actionable Stories Story Universe
  12. 12. Building Community Essential Elements Story Collaborative Action Voice
  13. 13. Building Community Narrative Design | Choreography Narrative Design | Symphony Narrative Design | Team Sport
  14. 14. Our Work | Case Studies
  15. 15. Cross-media platforms Human Rights | Aid + Development
  16. 16. Single platform Child homelessness | Undocumented youth | Arts education
  17. 17. Multiple platforms Immigration reform | Migrant rights | Economic development Inside Comayagua Prison, Honduras NYTimes Op-Doc: Bodies on the Border
  18. 18. Toolkits | Training Transmedia Storytelling and Narrative Design for Program Innovation
  19. 19. Nonprofit organizations | Strategic Planning
  20. 20. Forthcoming | Multiple platforms
  21. 21. Emerging Trends: Projects of Note Setting a Cultural Stage
  22. 22. Setting a Cultural Stage: Indie + Nonprofit Interactive Participatory Projects | Social Issue Dadaab Stories Hollow Sandy Storyline My Sky is Falling
  23. 23. Setting a Cultural Stage: Indie and Nonprofit Projects | Arts and Culture, Community Vibrancy
  24. 24. Setting a Cultural Stage: Data Visualization Out of Sight, Out of Mind
  25. 25. Setting a Cultural Stage: Interactive Journalism NYTimes: Snow Fall Guardian: NSA Files Decoded
  26. 26. Setting a Cultural Stage: Long Form Interactive Journalism NYTimes: Invisible Child
  27. 27. Setting a Cultural Stage: Nonprofit Interactive | Education and Direct Action MSF: Starved for Attention
  28. 28. Setting a Cultural Stage: Management Consulting | Social Enterprise McKinsey & Company: Stories of Social Entrepreneurs
  29. 29. Sources of Funding + Corporate Sponsorship + Audience Funding | Crowdsourced Funding + Crowdsourced Production + Philanthropic Funding ++ Film Philanthropies ++ Foundations Supporting Underlying Issues ++ Impact investment funds + Income Revenue models + Venture Capital | Private Equity
  30. 30. Sources of Funding | Educational Materials
  31. 31. Business Models for Narrative Design + For-profit Companies + Nonprofit Organizations + Storyworlds + Campaigns + Projects
  32. 32. Market Opportunities aka, who isn’t really doing this yet? + Corporate Social Responsibility + Corporate Commmunity Engagement + Advertising + Marketing + Management Consulting + Small Foundations and NGOs
  33. 33. Risks and Challenges
  34. 34. Risks and Challenges + Gulf between theory, critique, and practice + Love of the platform and technology | Techno-determinism + “Hijacking” narrative + “Savior Traps” + “Helicoptering” + Intellectual property concerns + Funding and Distribution + Impact Measurement
  35. 35. Risks and Challenges: Solving for... Intentionality + Creating rigor around and recognizing intentionality behind "citizen" media and “DIY” storytelling + Parsing out fine lines between story to engagement to propaganda + Bridging engagement/action gap
  36. 36. Risks and Challenges: Solving for... + Community-centered participation “local voice” in direct partnership with platform creators + Move beyond awareness connecting targeted audiences to commit to a particular worldview, advocacy agenda, or action, by using local storytellers + Platforms that are culturally appropriate
  37. 37. Risks and Challenges: Solving for... Assessing Your Social Change Model + Respect + Relevance + Resonance Full model available at
  38. 38. Risks and Challenges: Solving for... Regarding Humanity |
  39. 39. Lina Srivastava @lksriv