Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Storytelling To Transform Your KM Projects, Strategy and Culture

This was an outstanding session that provided dramatically (pun intended) better ways to motivate change, encourage adoption, and get things done that you want done. I especially appreciate the organizers bringing in an actual professional dramatist, it is always a breath of fresh air to hear from other areas of work or art.

Formal Description:

Masterful storytelling is transformative: It stimulates knowledge-sharing and growth within organizations. In the case of KM, it can build widespread, longstanding support by weaving your KM message and strategy into your firm's and each individual's stories. Interact with your colleagues as you learn about the elements of storytelling, techniques for developing a compelling story about your project, and how to use storytelling to promote a KM culture and obtain widespread buy-in.


·         Ginevra Saylor - Dentons Canada LLP
·         Tracey Erin Smith - Actor and Director, SoulOTheatre

See tweet stream at #kmpg2

Introduction to Storytelling

Ginevra Saylor introduced the subject of storytelling and provided some intriguing clues as to why it works so well to drive change and encourage adoption.

Senior lawyers mentor junior lawyers through war stories. "Where do you stand when you introduce an exhibit?" "Boy, the first time I was in Judge Carter's classroom."

Lawyers also use caselaw as stories. Every case is a fable. The moral of the story is the judge's decision. When lawyers use cases to persuade a judge they are using storytelling.

That part of our minds called "Broca's Brain" is activated when language is decoded for meaning. Storytelling also engages the other parts of the brain, so if the story involves food the sensory cortext is stimulated. The entire brain is activated by a story. That's why storytelling works so well to convey a message.

Audience members also synchronize with the storyteller, so that they have a similar experience to what the storyteller has. The storyteller can transfer her reaction to the listeners.

We've been storytelling for more than 27,000 years. We are hard-wired for storytelling.

Storytelling can ignite action, demonstrate value, and encourage change.

When storytelling for lawyers, don't tell them they're going to be transformed.

Storytelling works because that's how life-saving lessons were transmitted. We're hoping to learn something that will help us, gain something. A story feels like a break.

Tracey Smith

 There are three type of stories:

·         It Happened
·         We can make it happen
·         Don't let it happen (Red X / village idiot).

In an "It Happened" story, you need to get a handle on your characteristics. When you're talking to an audience who doesn't know you, you need to give them a sense of who you are.

Six Characteristics of A Good Story:

1. Relevance

What's the relevance to the audience?

2. Time & Place
The classic fairytale formulation "once upon a time in a land far away...." sets out time and place right away.

3. Set of Events / Characters

Joe walked down to the farm. He came back.


We are engaged by hearing characters interact.

5. Something Unexpected

An obstacle or villain.

6. Learnings / Redemption / Transformation

Something has to change / has to happen.

Another effective effective approach to storytelling is the "Hero's Journey" (also called Monomyth).

Ginevra was able to fit an enterprise search story into the Hero's Journey paradigm.

Storytelling Tips:

1) Put the audience at the center of the story; explain the feeling they will get when they move into the future. We don't want the convertible, we want the feeling that convertible will give us.

2) Highlight pain of the present and contrast it with the benefits of the future.

3) Have radical empathy for your audience.

Information Handlers

Who are KM folk? Those who have been the handlers of information have the following archetypes:

Pioneer: discovers and explores new territory, innovates
Detective: organizes information
Mediator: Patience, skill, reads people, brings people together
Networker: Forge alliances, make connections among vastly different groups of people
Storyteller: Explains vision in compelling manner and motivates to action
Student: studies the environment and assesses where change is needed
Visionary: Design and implement the future

It's important to boost your audience's confidence and important. If you're leading a group into the trenches you want a confident bunch.

Move your audience to action, try to move them emotionally.

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