Story is the ultimate multitasking tool

about stories collective wisdom leadership making meaning people in practice Mar 15, 2022

Today I was listening to Henri Lipmanowicsz and Keith McCandless tell part of the origin story of Liberating Structures. Henri made a compelling point that concepts are all very well and good, but for change to come, people need structures. So many people are not poor leaders by choice, but because they don't know how to do things differently.

Organisations are fractals, patterns keep them going. When we see and shift these patterns, change comes about. One of the key patterns to be aware of is in how we relate to each other. Who is included? Whose voice counts? How can we free more energy, resource and capacity to do good work together?

These two words -- "liberating" and "structures" are together for a reason. Micro structures underpin everything we do. And the more you learn to look for these patterns, the more you see them in action.

Storytelling in itself can be a liberating structure underpinning both individuals and collective human interaction. We experience something. We make sense and meaning of it, capturing it in story form in our minds. It becomes part of how we meet the world and define our agency. We keep telling ourselves stories that shape our actions (and reactions). Collectively we are influenced by the relational and social fields we are part of.

Some of the biggest challenges in our world today are predicated on stories of separation, greed and power dynamics. Yet if we take the premise of Liberating Structures as a guide, the secret to change lies in moving beyond expertness and giving a voice to everyone, using simple and elegant micro structures anyone can integrate and use to support them in living and working well with others.

I call trio storytelling the ultimate multitasking tool. So simple on the surface, so rich when you dig into it. Its simplicity hides a multitude of micro structures anyone can learn how to use. Let me name three:

  • Storytelling/Storylistening: The first gift of this process is strengthening and refining two core and complementary competencies,  When we learn to speak with intention and listen with attention we automatically become a learning field together. Storytelling is a key leadership capacity -- for vision, values, strategic direction -- but so is listening. Peter Senge has spoken of leaders "holding a space for the bigger questions." These is key in ever-increasing complexity.
  • Hosting/Harvesting: Learning how to make generative spaces that create increased understanding and connection is imperative right now. In small story circles we can learn to find and capture the gold in our lived experiences in such a way that we find new resources and perspectives that open the door to creativity and innovation.
  • Pursuing the task/strengthening the relational field: There's no doubt that we need to take action, but we are also in a time when our threads of connection are frayed. The challenges before us will demand that we stay together through the turbulence. It's like river rafting -- everyone needs to paddle, but we all need to stay in the boat together. Sharing story help us build the connections and at the same time inquire into hidden resources that can support and inform our collective tasks.

There are so many more opportunities hidden in this very simple micro structure. To learn more join us for BEYOND FACILITATION: Secrets of Extraordinary Hosting.

Europe/North America timezone

  • March 16: Session 3: Story the Secret Sauce of Hosting 
  • March 30: Finding the Gold in Lived Experience: Applying the Collective Story Harvest Method

Asia Pacific timezone

Isn't it time to have a brilliant ally on your side?

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