Storytelling is an ancient practice, helping us to share our knowledge with context and emotion; we can share that tacit side of what we know. Storytelling triggers listeners to respond with other stories, building new understanding. Stories can capture and hold our attention, increasing the likelihood of hearing and learning. Storytelling is very valuable in our knowledge sharing work.
Potential applications of storytelling and narratives:
Storytelling can be used in many different ways to use storytelling, as in these two examples, one from Sparknow Consulting (www.sparknow.net) and one from the Swiss Development Corporation (SDC).
Pairs Storytelling - Sparknow
The principle is that everyone can think of positive/negative changes in which they have taken part; this enables individuals, pairs and groups to learn about these changes in a structured fashion.
Story template for use in workshop process
Introduce the workshop and theme for the storytelling. It could focus on a specific theme (e.g. change in organisational management techniques), or on a range of themes. The key is to provide a context in which participants think about and select the stories they are going to share.
Using objects and displays - SDC - Swiss Development Corporation
Using objects to trigger memories, find hidden histories and create vehicles for difficult things to be shared.
When telling stories, you can use objects to trigger memories of specific experiences, to create the visual hooks for your audience. Objects – unlike printed words – have the power to both evoke and contain stories, conveying the symbolic essence of something. As symbols, representing the core of an idea or experience, objects are easy for the memory to recall. As tangible things, objects can be used to make collections, exhibits and displays, arousing people’s interest in the subject matter they relate to by making visible patterns and connections which might otherwise remain undetected.
Reflecting on what we (SDC) do – Understand the values gaps.
Building communities – Build chemistry, trust and identity.
Learning from others and innovating – Make room for new ideas and connections.
Using installation artists and the idea of classification and exhibit is one way of using storytelling. Here is one example from the Dare to Share Fair, SDC headquarters, March 2004. Sparknow ran two experimental workshops in the Bedouin tent using objects to trigger and pass on learning. The process was as follows:
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