Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Telling Stories

I came across a small, though nice write-up about the impact Storytelling can have in the organizational context. This is at the homepage of the SIO SIG (thats Storytelling In Organizations Special Interest Group ... ever wondered why all such abbreviations are always exactly 3 letters long, not a letter more, not a letter less? I have a theory about that, but more about that later).

This is available here. One statement that caught the eye ...

Stories supply facts with meaning, and value propositions with illustrations.

As Peter Senge talks about in The Fifth Discipline, everyone has a mental model which is an aggregation of a lifetime of experiences. What this implies is that anything new we learn is filtered through this model, and we end up trying to relate the new learning to the existing nodes in this mental model.

And this is where the value of stories comes. Stories are told, and they run in that part of the context which is shared between different members of the audience, and which is at the same time shared with the storyteller. This context is the mental models of the members of the audience. Which is what gives the story the power of bringing meaning along with the facts (actually, both of the reinforce each other in the story). Take the example of Jokes. How many times have we not understood a joke because the context of the joke is alien to us? The same logic is applicable to the story.

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