I’ve just returned from a couple of days in New Zealand working with my old colleagues from IBM. It was a fun to spend two days thinking and talking about knowledge strategy.
I had lunch with Ross Pearce from IBM and he told me how he helped two parts of a company resolve their communications difficulties using an anecdote circle. He got both parties in the room and encouraged them to tell their stories about what was happening. The session went for three hours! One participant came up to Ross at the end of the session and thanked him because it was one of the very few times they have had a conversation without the pressure of delivering a specific output. A good start but the interesting insight came later.
Ross recorded and transcribed the meeting and sent the 100 page transcript to all the attendees asking them to read it. At first they resisted—“it’s so long, we don’t have time”. they lamented—but after some gentle persuasion they all agreed. In fact it was quite easy to read because it was in their language, it was their words.
A week later they all met again and many of the participants said the same thing about reading the transcript: “I can’t believe how much I missed at our first meeting. I guess I was too busy thinking about the next thing I was going to say and failed to listen properly.”
This second meeting was the watershed for the relationship between the two groups. And while Ross never provided me with the details I got the sense that there now existed a foundation to rebuild the rapport between the two groups.
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: