A mining company just finished a traditional values exercise. You know the one, it ends up with a bulleted list of single words like integrity, diversity, professionalism. The designers quickly realised that their list wouldn’t mean much in the field so they started a project to collect stories from all their mine sites which illustrated the values. Each site agreed on the stories they thought reflected the values and then each story was illustrated and made into a poster. The genius of this intervention was in making posters specific to each mine site based on their stories AND not fully explaining the pictures on the posters. You had to be in the know to understand them. Visitors to the site would ask, “so what’re the scribbles all about?” “Ah, yep that’s the story about …” and the story illustrating one of the values is passed on. Prompted storytelling at its best.
This reminded me of visit back in 1991 to Chartres Cathedral and a memorable tour conducted by Malcolm Miller. I remember Miller describing each stained glass window as a series of stories from the bible and pointing out how the priests used these magnificent windows to both intimidate the audience and prompt the priests as to which stories to tell. This might be blasphemy, but it sounds a bit like PowerPoint.
[thanks to Jock Macneish for the mining story]
About Shawn Callahan
Shawn, author of Putting Stories to Work, is one of the world's leading business storytelling consultants. He helps executive teams find and tell the story of their strategy. When he is not working on strategy communication, Shawn is helping leaders find and tell business stories to engage, to influence and to inspire. Shawn works with Global 1000 companies including Shell, IBM, SAP, Bayer, Microsoft & Danone. Connect with Shawn on: