Story Spines Can Inspire Change

Once Upon a Time, You Created Change…

Storytelling has long been a vehicle for creating a journey of the imagination, a journey in which a transformation happens. In his March 2012 Fast Company article, “Using Great Storytelling To Grow Your Business,” Kaihan Krippendorff writes about how to use effective storytelling to drive change and growth in an organization. He references a tool called a Story Spine, which is a simple bunch of sentence stems that provide the skeleton for building a story. The Story Spine is a tool developed by Kenn Adams as a way for improvisers (actors who work without a script) to build a classic story.

The basic Story Spine structure

Once there was…
And every day…
Until one day…
And because of that…
And because of that…
And because of that…
Until finally…
And so…

Optional ending line: The moral of the story is…

Sound familiar? Many fairy tales and children’s stories, as well as novels and movies,  fit in this story structure. Elegant & easy! So, what if we could use story spines to map out a vision for changing ourselves? Simple genius! Here’s a great Harvard Business Review article that guides us on using Story Spines to craft a vision for changing our own circumstances: http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/07/a_simple_exercise_to_help_you.html.

Bonus Freebie

There are hundreds of possible Story Spine variations, and here’s one:

  • [The balance]: Once upon a time … and every day …
  • [The un-balance]: But then one day …
  • [The quest for a resolution]: … and because of that … and so … until finally ….
  • [The new balance]: … and ever since that day ….

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Your Turn

Now, how will you use a Story Spine to create change in your own life? Share your thoughts in a comment here!

Create a Contest

Build Organizational Positivity: Run a Story Contest

Remember in school when you had to write an essay on “What I did this summer?” This was your teacher’s way of teaching you the art of storytelling. Well, who ever said the storytelling should stop just because we’re all grown up? 

Everyone Wins

Soliciting stories from members of your organization is a quadruple win:

  • Storytellers enjoy the chance to highlight a meaningful experience, a proud moment or an appreciated person
  • Leaders learn about positive things happening within the organization
  • Teams enjoy the chance to share important events, moments with each other
  • The organization gains a purposeful archive of the great efforts, triumphs and creativity of its individuals and teams

An effective technique for eliciting stories from the people in your organization or from your customers is to run a story contest with winners and prizes. It’s amazing how excited adults can get over sharing stories. So, how do you create a contest?

Run a Story Contest in 7 Easy Steps

1. Define your contest. What is the purpose? What kind of information do you hope to elicit? Do you want individual stories, workplace stories, or excellent customer service stories? Ask a question that excites your target audience’s imagination. Examples:

  • What do I like best about working here?
  • How has our product or service improved the quality of daily life?
  • What does the future looks like if we succeed?

2. Decide how you’ll use the stories. Will the stories appear in your magazine, your intranet site, your internet site, your management meeting, or maybe on a special wall in the building?

3. Determine the prize(s) you’ll use to incentivize people to participate. Make sure that they are appropriate for your organization, audience, and budget.

4. Establish your timeline and budget. Include the cost of prizes, translations, marketing, and time required. How long will your contest run? Build in time to market the contest, review the entries, and select a winner. Work backwards from your deadline.

5. Draw up the rules. Figure out how you will judge entries in advance – you’ll need to communicate this to participants.

6. Launch your contest. Develop and execute your marketing plan, including the who, what, where and when information on the contest. Monitor submissions, adjusting your marketing efforts as needed.

7. Select and announce your winner(s) and any runner-ups. Notify winners directly in advance before formal announcements are made.  Use winning entries in your communications, as planned.

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Your turn: Have you ever participated in a contest? What type of contest would you like to run? Leave a comment here to share your ideas.

Augmented reality – tagging the world!

Augmented reality

Imagine this: You’re traveling on a desert highway out West, and you see a lone stone fort set back from the road.  The old stone structure looks interesting, and you wonder about its history.  You pull out your phone, aim it at the fort, and poof, a full description of the stone structure and its history pops up on your phone’s screen, telling you when it was built, what happened there, and who owns it today.

That’s augmented reality.

And it’s coming, soon. Check out these two glimpses into the future of storytelling, travel, and social networking:

An augmented reality application for Google Android-based phones: Wikitude AR Travel Guide

Futuristic 3D Storytelling – EyeMagicBooks
Fun, huh?

Visual storytelling

Connect Using Visual Storytelling

It’s time for another golden e-Learning design tip! Today we’ll focus on visual storytelling. 

We’ve heard over and again that the power of visual imagery is unbeatable in instructional design. Yet, we struggle to find and use images that accurately capture and evoke the kind of emotion that connects audiences with the story we are trying to tell.  Perhaps you’ve seen the famed YouTube video series, “In Plain English,” where the CommonCraft geniuses show us (rather than tell us) the essence of Web 2.0 technologies. It is this kind of visual storytelling that captures our attention and ignites our imagination.

So, how can you show, rather than tell, your story?

Now, here’s your homework:

Take a look at Veronica Rusnak‘s Article on “Visual Storytelling and Moments in the Human Condition.”

“Remember: story, not data. Rather than talk about your topic, find a way to show it.”

Looking forward to your ideas!

Susan Hendrich