Been to one of the Smithsonian or Golden Fleece storytelling events in Washington DC over the last ten years? Well, we are conducting a survey to ascertain the level of interest in holding another such event in Washington DC in the Spring of 2011. The event could be related to storytelling, reinvention and/or revolutionizing the world of work.
We want to find out what sort of event might interest you, on what topics and for how long.
If you would like to get right to the questions and the chance to win a RAFFLE PRIZE (a copy of my book, The Leader's Guide to Radical Management ), go immediately to the survey here: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/3NFCYKX
Don't delay! Don’t miss out! The raffle will close at midnight EST Wednesday January 12, 2011.
If on the other hand you would like to understand some of the background to this annual event, please read the background note set out below.
Almost ten years ago in April 2001, I organized a symposium at the Smithsonian Associates with the eventual goal of converting the world to the power of storytelling. I did so because I saw in leadership storytelling a way to make the world a more humane and better place than the grim humorless workplaces that I saw all around me. At the time, people told me that my goal was quixotic, even absurd.
The event was so successful that it led to the formation of a community of people in the Washington DC which called itself the Golden Fleece group. This group began meeting on monthly basis in July 2001.
Since 2001, each year in the Spring in Washington DC, I have organized, with the help of many others, an organizational storytelling event at the Smithsonian Associates. The event usually lasted one day and consisted of prominent speakers talking about various aspects of leadership storytelling. At one time or another, most of the leaders of the global storytelling movement have appeared at the annual event.
In addition, for the last eight years, the annual Smithsonian event was accompanied by a second event organized by the Golden Fleece Group. This event was organized by volunteers, including Madelyn Blair, Denise Lee and Seth Kahan, among many others. It has included presentations made by members of the Golden Fleece Group itself, as well as consistently bringing in speakers from outside the group including speakers from other countries.
The annual storytelling event in Washington DC in the Spring of each year served a variety of purposes.
- It helped continue momentum of the storytelling movement.
- It served as a kind of the annual general meeting of “the storytelling tribe”.
- It brought in new members to the storytelling movement
- It introduced the storytelling community to new speakers, thinkers and ideas.
- It helped individuals acquire new skills.
- It was generally light-hearted and fun and served as an antidote to the stuffy formal world of organizations.
THE WORLDWIDE STORYWORK GROUP
Around 2007, the Golden Fleece group decided to “go virtual” and formed an online community entitled the Worldwide Story Work with the help of Shawn Callahan and Madelyn Blair among others. It is located at Ning.com and can be joined at: http://worldwidestorywork.ning.com. It now has around 600 members.
THE REINVENTION SUMMIT
By way of additional background, in November 2010, a virtual conference with a storytelling theme entitled the Reinvention Summit was organized by Michael Margolis. It was focused on storytelling for personal, business, and social reinvention and it attracted a large and active audience. This has led to active online conversations and further online workshops. Participants in this online event have been discussing about holding live get-togethers in various places around the world. One such event might be an event in Washington DC in the Spring of 2011.
THE STORYTELLING MOVEMENT HAS SUCCEEDED
Over the course of the last ten years, many people around the world have come to embrace storytelling. As a result of the efforts of many people, it is now commonplace to find leadership storytelling discussed and promoted in even the most conservative business journals. Most leadership textbooks now have a section on storytelling. Business schools now often include segments on storytelling in their courses on leadership. Major corporations have taken it up as a central leadership theme.
In broad terms, the intellectual battle to have storytelling accepted in the world of work has been won. What was once seen as absurd is now viewed as obvious. While there is still opposition and resistance in some quarters, and many people have yet to learn about it, the nature of the effort has changed. This is less about launching a new movement and more about refining and developing a set of widely accepted and well-documented ideas.
A BROADENING OF THE GOALS
Yet my original goal of getting involved in storytelling in the first place, i.e. doing something about the grim humorless workplaces, has not been met.
Even though storytelling itself is successful, those grim humorless workplaces are still everywhere. My take is that that war has still to be fought.
Thus I have come to see that storytelling by itself is not enough. In organizations today, we find a set of attitudes, practices and values that cripple the human spirit and hamstring creativity and innovation.
I believe that the time is therefore ripe to take on the broader challenge of reinventing those attitudes, practices and values so that our organizations become curators of the human spirit rather than its destroyer.
I have invited people to join me in this quest. An online community has formed with the title of: “Revolutionizing the World of Work”. It now has over a hundred participants and a number of lively online conversations are under way. If you would like to join this community, go to: http://bit.ly/eF2wfX
CHANGES IN SPONSORSHIP
Earlier this year, the Smithsonian Associates made a policy decision to re-focus its events on the relics and collections of its museums. Hence it will no longer be a partner in our storytelling endeavors. We have appreciated their support over the years, but it is time to part company.
At the same time, George Mason University, which sponsored the Golden Fleece event in 2010 and contributed the facilities for that event, has decided not to participate in any 2011 event.
Meanwhile, several other potential organizations have expressed interest in co-sponsoring an event in Washington DC if it happens.
THE STORYTELLING MOVEMENT IS NOW MAINLY VIRTUAL
Looking back over the last ten years, we can see that what began as a handful of people meeting face-to-face in Washington DC has now spawned a number of large and growing online communities around the world. These include:
- The Golden Fleece group itself (around 60 members)
- The Working Stories list (more than a hundred members)
- The Worldwide Story Work group on Ning (around 600 members)
- The Reinvention Summit group (around 600 members)
- The group Revolutionizing the World of Work (more than a hundred members)
- Regular blogging and tweeting about storytelling and reinventing the workplace are reaching tens of thousands of people in social media.
There is a lot of overlap among the groups. Many individuals are members of more than one of these groups. For instance, I am a member of all five communities.
Overall the storytelling/reinvention movement is now very much larger than it was some years ago and the agenda is considerably broader than it was ten years ago.
With the withdrawal of the Smithsonian Associates and George Mason University as co-sponsors, we have to decide whether any live event or events should be planned and if so, what.
One possibility would be to recognize that the storytelling world, like the rest of the world, has gone virtual, and simply continue to meet online, without any live events.
Indeed one school of thought is that social media and online events are reaching so many more people than in-person events that we should continue to put all our efforts into virtual events, and forget about organizing an event or events where we could meet in person.
Another school of thought is that it would be a pity not to continue the momentum of what has gone before as well as to open up new horizons. An in-person event or set of events could help “ground” the growing online movement, including:
- It could serve as a meeting of one of more of the various “tribes”: i.e. storytelling, GoldenFleece, Worldwide Story Work, Reinvention Summit or Revolutionizing the World of Work.
- It could bring in new members to the various movements
- It could introduce people to new speakers, thinkers and ideas.
- It could help individuals to acquire new skills.
- It could be fun.
Nevertheless, it would take some effort and money to organize. Hence before undertaking that, we would like to ascertain the level of interest in participating in a live event, as opposed to continuing to meet online. Hence this survey.
In the past, the burden of organizing a live event has fallen on a few people. If there is interest in meeting, we would also like to ascertain whether there is a willingness to help organize the event/
WOULD YOU LIKE TO PARTICIPATE IN A LIVE EVENT IN DC IN THE SPRING OF 2011?
We would like to ascertain your interest in participating in a live event or events in Washington DC in the Spring of 2011 in Washington DC so as to continue the momentum of what has gone before as well as to open up new horizons. Your participation in the survey will help us make the best decision.
If you leave your email, you will qualify for one of the two raffle prizes being offered, namely, a copy of my new book, THE LEADER'S GUIDE TO RADICAL MANAGEMENT. The two winners of the raffle will be announced in Steve Denning's newsletter.
Please take the survey here: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/3NFCYKX