An interview with David Hutchens about capturing the wisdom of an organization.
“Stories are incredibly efficient containers of knowledge, mental models, assumptions, beliefs, emotions and key information.”
– David Hutchens
David shares several ways to facilitate groups in sharing stories, turn those stories into meaningful wisdom and using them strategically. One he recently used with an organization – a method that was loosely based on conversations with Cynthia Kurtz and the Cynefin framework for chaos and complexity. After people share stories the group asks “What is this story about?” and individuals write their answers on yellow sticky notes and collaborate to arrange these diverse themes into “affinity groups” to add organization to the diversity with categories and themes.
Core beliefs emerge and spread during conversations that deepen the inquiry.
We explore the process called World Café as another way to share stories. Storytelling is a perfect format for these small to large group conversations. People gather at small tables covered with paper and a record keeper. As new people come to each table the record keeper records symbols and phrases that transfer meaning. Themes evolve organically.
“If we did not capture and “merely” had these conversations in the room and walked out of here – it would not have been a waste of time.”
– David Hutchens
Stories about success aren’t the only stories that we need to share. Engineers without Borders created a great website: www.admittingfailure.com to capture lessons learned.
Announcing their failures to the world is the way they ensure volunteers share what they’ve learned. Making it okay to tell stories about failure can be a key to create a culture of learning. People don’t have to repeat mistakes. I was struck by how comments on the site clearly show compassion, support and gratitude for lessons learned. What a great idea!
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