If you want to help people understand each other and collaborate for change you may need some "thingies" as I wrote the other day - social events, games and simulations, online spaces, co-ordinators. Somehow I left off the role of stories, perhaps because I didn't have in mind how they could lead to action.
Then last Friday I met up with Louise Harris and Christine Wilson, at a conference organised by Community Housing Cymru. Before going along to their workshop I tried one other thingy - posting a video of development manager Sioned Hughes, asking people to send ideas on using social media in organisations to the conference blog. That was a great success, as you can see here if you browse the comments. Thanks to Lloyd, Paul, Michele, Beth, DK, Paul, Simon, David, Jeremy, Menka, Nick, Paul, Tim, Ian.
Anyway, back to storytelling, of the digital kind. Louise Harris runs the Big Learning Company, and Christine Wilson works at the Centre for Research and Innovation in Care Services, University of Glamorgan. They recently contributed to the first Public Sector Narrative Conference: Storytelling for Change, which was a collaboration between Public Service Management Wales, ENLA and the Wales Centre for Health.
The essence of their workshop was that by videoing, picturing, podcasting or otherwise recording the experiences of service users and managers you can, with their agreement, use stories to promote change.
One story we heard was that of a nurse who was interrupted while dispensing drugs to a patient. She gave the wrong thing to the patient, and was so mortified she couldn't sleep that night. In the morning she offered to hand in her resignation: even though the patient was OK she felt it was a terrible lapse in professional practice. Fortunately her manager turned the incident to advantage, and encouraged the nurse to share her experience with the rest of the team on the ward. As a result they came up with a solution - a sash nurses could wear saying "do not disturb, dispensing".
Several things emerge from this story, for me. First, the ward manager recognised how it was possible to start off with a story and end up with a new procedure, re-assuring those involved along the way. Second, the manager is prepared to allow that story to be retold digitally - we saw the manager's story at the conference - and show others how change can happen. Thirdly, I could remember it. When was the last time you could recite a Powerpoint slide without notes?
I interviewed Louise and Christine at the end of the conference, and as I was doing so it occurred to me that storytelling techniques could be really useful for the Innovation Exchange in their quest to get nonprofit service providers, commissioners and investors working together. That where I was thinking about collaboration thingies the other day. I've dropped that possible connection into the interview and will post the idea across to John Craig and colleagues. Hah! - there's another collaboration thingy: blogging as brokerage.
While Louise was emphasising the Welsh talent for storytelling I remembered that my friend Lloyd Davis had been doing something last year with a Surrey Healthcare blog. There are some great videos with professionals, patients, and anyone else Lloyd and the team could engage. I'll pop along to the Social Media Cafe he organises every Friday in Soho over the Coach and Horses. If you want to come too, sign up here. Should be good stories and conversation, and I'm sure action will follow. It's up to you to provide the ending.
Update: over at content to be different Paul Caplan describes how he does a Conversation audit to provide "an in-depth qualitative analysis of how a business, product, service or brand is being talked about on the Live Web". I guess that's the way you can find where your story ends up.