Tag Archives: story telling

What’s in a Story?

It was just another Wednesday morning….. moving from meeting to meeting, maneuvering the ruts that the recent snow storm had left, and thinking about what was next on my list of projects, and how much work awaited me as I returned to my office. As I walked down the halls (perhaps it was the air of familiarity in my pace and the briefcase in hand that made them ask), I stopped briefly as I heard someone call out – excuse me…. can you help.

I stopped in my tracks….. a bit disappointed with my own lack of attention to my surroundings. There she was, an elderly woman with tears in her eyes and the sound of fear in her voice. She was trying to find her way; probably because a loved one or her husband of many years had just been brought into the hospital or had taken a turn for the worse…. She was alone and distraught and wasn’t able to follow the directions she’d been given by our switchboard. I looked at the piece of paper in her hand and started to offer her directions…. and immediately thought WHAT ARE YOU DOING….. nothing at this moment could be more important than helping this woman to get where she needs to be. So I stopped and said, why don’t I just accompany you to where you need to go. As we slowly walked down the hallway and we talked, she apologized for the ‘rust on her brain’ that morning. I re-assured her, and let her know that she had no need to worry – we’d get where she needed to be and we all have some rust that needs shaking off first thing in the morning. With others around I didn’t feel comfortable asking her to relay her story, or to ask why her brain was rusty that morning. BUT we safely got to her destination and her thanks and her touch on my arm as we parted said all that needed to be said….. When we forget that the most important part of what we do each day – is to take the time to walk with a patient or family member and help them navigate the unfamiliarity of our culture….. I’d say, we’ve lost our way.

Did it work? Was my story memorable? Was it easy to understand? Did I tell too much or too little? Was it believable? ‘Rememberable’? Entertaining? Did you identify with the character? Did it as Rossiter suggests, stimulate your empathetic orientation and provide a basis for both cognitive and emotional responses. Did it allow you to experience the story and the world views of another? As Rossiter suggests, there is power in stories, they can lead to experience based, constructivist pedagogy (p 1).

It was with my continued search for how we transform our cultures that I came across the work of Lamsa and Sintonen this week, and their advice that:

narratives are useful tools for interpreting and transforming abstract values into an understandable and rememberable form at the practical level among the organizational members. (p 108)

These narratives help us to reflect upon the type of organization we want to be. Perhaps they help us to move past single loop learning (stay tuned yet another post coming on that topic)….. and change our assumptions about the way things are done around here. I’d hope that anyone in my organization would have done the same thing on Wednesday morning OR, that they’d relate to my story and think a bit differently the next time they are faced with a similar situation. I didn’t save a life on Wednesday, it was just another day at the office – BUT, I hope my actions made a difference.

If I were creating the banner that hangs at our front entrance, I’d hope it would simply say – ‘our team is here to help when you need us’.

As  Lamsa and Sintonen suggest:

narratives not only define who we are but also what kind of an organization and what kind of people we should be. Thus they also tell us about the wishes, aims and morals of an organization. The participatory narrative enables the members of the organization to commit to self-reflection, and it serves as a method for their learning. (p 108)

A few years ago, our culture started down the path of the importance of stories. In the portfolio that I was part of, we started every meeting with a story. BUT, we’ve become so busy as of late, that we’ve started to slip back to old ways and old habits. As with anything, cultural changes are only sustained with continued dedication…… So, after my readings and critical reflection this week, I’ve sent a note to my teams and have updated our meeting agendas…… 1.0 on the agenda  now reads: positive stories of the week & thank you’s. As I talked about last week, it’s time to start ‘acting’ my way into it again :).

That little yellow challenge flag has been thrown…..Thoughts? Ideas? Your story?


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What’s your story?

It is interesting the things that come to you at 6AM when your brain is getting oxygen on the treadmill (see how good I’m getting with this ‘sharing’ stuff).  I was reflecting (while treading) on my final exercise for my research class, and trying to decipher if Narrative Inquiry  or ‘storytelling’, can actually be called research and suddenly…. I made the connection.

As my readings had suggested, it is our stories that create our reality. To date I had been resisting the idea that I might be a storyteller instead of or along with being a ‘positivist’. I was a nurse, a project manager and a scientist – or so I thought. But then I thought further about my favorite part of my ECI class and how much I’ve enjoyed creating this journal/blog. I reflected on those first few weeks and my initial posts, and Alec telling me that I needed to find my voice. I remember thinking – what will I say, what makes my stories worthy of recording?

But, the more I pushed myself, the more I liked coming back here and creating these narratives? I wasn’t sure that anyone was reading them, but it became a time to step back, reflect and explain what I was feeling, ‘sense making’ of what mattered to me.  And I concluded that my digital stories ARE my reality and I’d say that this does count as research. They have changed my worldview.

Then there is our Simulation Centre Blog (shamelessly promoted at www.oursimcentre.wordpress.com). This blog has a different mission – to inform, to engage, to take people along on our journey. Imagine the rich history of information we’ll be able to gather and save from this project. This type of story, just wasn’t possible ten years ago….. and yes, I’d say it counts as narrative research.

There were also the stories we heard of teachers using blogs with their students. And the grandmother who came to meet the teacher, because the class blog had allowed her to see her grandchildren grow up and their progress each day – even though she lived in BC. I’m willing to bet that this positively impacted her life. It was likely her reality and I’m sure that should be studied as research.

Questions started forming…. Isn’t it too bad that we have to come into the doctoral program with a question already selected? Wouldn’t it be nice if we could start out, find our voice and our truth and THEN find a mentor who’d like to join us on that journey? As I think about my blogs, I think about how much more I’d like to know about this tool and its impact on our culture. What happens when people find their voice? What will be their digital stories? What difference might this make in their lives? In the connections that they make? And yes I believe that this would count as research.

As a blossoming academic, I went to my e-library and looked to see what’s been written on this topic. To date it doesn’t seem to be a journey that is well-travelled. But wouldn’t it be fun to complete a qualitative study using a narrative inquiry approach to research this idea of blogging (aka narrative inquiry)….


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