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-relying on any one person, workplace, or kind of work. This project is deliberately open-ended, and interviews are just one of the methods I'll be using to gather information along this path.


Would you like to talk about how storytelling matters in your work?


If you're interested in being interviewed, you can learn a bit more and sign up here:
Storytelling at Work Interview Consent:
https://illinois.edu/fb/sec/9992030


Have questions? I'd be glad to answer them: kmcdowel@illinois.edu. We can also set up a time to talk via phone or Skype, just email me and we'll make a plan.


The interviews will be guided by the following questions, which I'll send to folks who consent to participate. If you're curious about what kind of conversation this 30-minute interview will be, then these questions give you a pretty good sense of the topics I'm hoping to cover.

Storytelling at Work Questions:

  •      When have you used storytelling in your interactions with colleagues, as a teller or listener?
  •      How have you used storytelling in any of your professional communications, from practical daily interactions to presentations?
  •      How might storytelling function as a tool for thinking about the work of your organization?
  •      Could you see your own career trajectory as a story, and how has that story changed over time?