I had a query from a participant in my recent New Zealand masterclass about launching an organizational storytelling community. What are the lessons of experience on how to do this well?
Interesting question! Some relevant lessons from the experience of launching storytelling communities in Washington, San Diego, and Boston include:
- it's good to get together a nucleus of "champions" and “enthusiasts” to get the community launched; this nucleus can provide the energy to get things going.
- it's hard to get a community going purely online. You may need face to face meetings to keep momentum going. The Washington community meets once a month.
- find a convenient place where you can meet regularly. If you have to keep looking for a new location, this can be a drag.
- agree on the group's focus: decide on whether you want to have an organizational focus to the storytelling or not. Storytelling is a huge subject. If you embrace every aspect of storytelling, the group may get lost.
- keep a watch out for gender issues, which have a way of bubbling to the surface in storytelling groups.
- be inclusive and allow alternative points of view; be careful not to locked into thinking that there is "one right way" to tell stories.
- share the leadership. If the group is dependent on a single person, it can be vulnerable to collapse if that individual is unable to continue in the role.
As to more information about the Washington DC community, you can find their website at: http://www.storyatwork.com/
You might also be interested in looking at chapter 7 of The Leader’s Guide to Storytelling, which shows twelve ways of using narrative to launch and maintain a high-performance community.