Showing posts from 2016

What Storytelling Is (Not)

Everybody is talking about "storytelling" lately... When you hear the word "storytelling" so much, it seems like anything and everything can be storytelling. But it's important to define it so you know what I'm talking about. As written previously, I define storytelling as a dynamic exchange between the tale, the teller, and the audience. Understanding what is not storytelling--according to the definition I am developing based on the tradition of storytelling in librarianship--may help to further illuminate what storytelling is. But perhaps I should start with a quick definition of what storytelling is. Stories are fascinating; lots of  people are deeply interested in story structure, but I focus most on storytelling. To understand the "telling" part, I see benefits to focusing on the dynamic of storytelling as a three-part interchange. We learn about listening from this model in ways that other models miss by focusing solely on the story.

Story Across Organizations

What happens when stories are doing translation work between organizations? What does it mean when a story has to travel between different groups? How is inter-organizational storytelling a tool for coordination, collaboration, and leveraging collective resources? To understand how storytelling might work in these contexts, we have to back up and think about what these contexts are. In my (frequently co-taught) course Youth Services Community Engagement , we talk extensively about how the purposes of various organizations serving youth in communities lead them to collaborate (or not). Examples of the kinds of organizations we discuss are: school and public libraries, homework help programs, Scouting and other clubs, LGBTQIA and allies organizations, religious youth groups, and crisis nurseries as well as organizations that serve youth by serving families such as food banks, shelters, etc. When considering how different organizations are structured and function, there are a few

What I mean by "Storytelling"

I've noticed that there are two common definitions of "storytelling" floating around. The most common one is "the way you tell a story." In other words, it's all about the teller and the tale. There are scads of books about plot construction, screenplay writing, and other ways of telling stories. They cover every possible medium. So when people come to my storytelling workshops, they often expect to learn about story and how to perform. And I do indeed teach some of that. But it's incidental to my main point, which is the second definition of storytelling. As I use it, storytelling means a complex interplay and dynamic exchange between three elements, each of them vibrant and changing moment by moment. the tale the teller the audience You can this of this as a triangle: The best way to visualize this is as a dynamic triangle(1). There are three interrelationships happening in any dynamic storytelling exchange: the teller and the aud

Storytelling at Work

The real work of storytelling is not just talking, telling, or even framing the tale. It's knowing what to ask and when to listen. I'm launching a new research project today, and I'm hoping to talk with many of you who are reading this in the course of this research. The project is called Storytelling at Work, and it's about understanding how storytelling matters in the workplace. I hope to address questions like:  In the everyday world of work, what stories do we tell and what stories do we hear? How does storytelling work for people in everyday life? When does a story make or break the success of a workday, a project, or even an organization? I plan to conduct as many interviews as possible, aiming for someplace between 50-100 over the next year or two (1-2 per week or more when time permits). Each interview will take about 30 minutes. In this way, I am optimistic that I'll be able to draw together an informed picture of storytelling at work while not over-r