Perhaps it is working with TRIZ that has improved my analogous thinking but I watched this incredible video about ‘How Wolves Change Rivers’ and thought:
If Trophic Cascades are brought about by re-introducing a previously removed key species in an ecosystem, what might be the analogous effect of re-introducing storytellers, or even better PNI (Participatory Narrative Inquiry) facilitators who work with stories, back into a community.
I have just delivered the first of two experiments to run a Story Based workshop locally with local business friends who run their own small businesses. My intention was primarily to share with them a few of the lessons, methods and tools I have learned that have made a difference to me. From the feedback I have received I achieved the impact I so desired.
What surprised me was the amount of collaboration that occurred during the event and ‘cascaded’ onto social media afterwards. Unlike previous workshops where I have purposefully asked pairs to look for common ground or potential creative combination ideas, I never directly mentioned it this time.
It has only been 48 hours since the workshop ended and already I am aware of a surge of contacts via email, twitter and Facebook. Invites have been received to join google hangouts and physical Friday afternoon business networks. Three books and one painting sold. One participant going live on the radio and internet TV as a nutrition expert with potential to have a new career as a text jockey.
Now if one workshop with 8 participants can generate a cascade of collaborative energy this strong in 48 hours, just imagine if this was carried out in your area with your local businesses and if these businesses were coached and facilitated to build further relationships using stories we could change more than just rivers …
I have finally been brave enough to post this. This is the audio recording of my appearance at the Story Collider show in London in front of a packed house in a London Club earlier this year. 20 minutes long, you can hear the fear in my voice as I start, and listen out for a gap in the middle where I forget where I am up to. Enjoy
In another of my experiments I am, this month, piloting a new workshop/masterclass on developing Start-ups and SME’s. Most of my ecosystem thinking framework design came from working in Government and observing Knowledge Sharing and Innovation in very large commercial organisations. Whereas my experience over the last six years has been as a sole trader/start-up. So I reviewed my lessons learned over the years and have put together a workshop and associated ebook of the methods and tools I have found most useful and beneficial.
I am trial running two one-day workshops (by invitation only) in Peterborough on 22nd October and another in Reading on 4th November, then, subject to participant feedback, I hope to run these more regularly.
The workshop will be structured as a Participatory Narrative Inquiry event, very experiential, punctuated with a number of very useful tools I have picked up along the way. No Powerpoint slides, just face to face stories and instructions. An ebook will hopefully be available in time for the launch event.
My initial thoughts at a top 10 in the order they might be delivered:
- Exploring what we know already.
- What are the benefits of being a start-up and of what you do.
- How to price your services.
- Making sense of Customers and Products.
- How to negotiate uncertainty. Predictability and approach.
- Problem solving in Time and Space to increase your adaptability and resilience.
- How to prioritise your efforts and creative ideas.
- Storyboarding your ideas for maximum impact.
- Managing workflow and measuring impact – focus and minimal wasted effort.
- Your Social Media Footprint.
I am hoping to pitch these workshops to Development Agencies in Local Councils and Government funded bodies such as the ATI and KTNs, so if you have any connections or ideas around these I would be greatful to hear from you.
Hot off the Press, I am really excited about a half day workshop in Birmingham on 2nd December I am facilitating for the Association for Project Management (APM) Knowledge SIG on Improving Project Performance – applying an ecosystem framework to project management.
For the event I have simplified my Ecosystem Framework down to its three essential approaches, see above, where I believe I have brought together the very best of the best that allow you to take a full ecosystem view of the business area you are working within. By combining these approaches and being especially true to the Participatory Narrative Inquiry (PNI) ethos of Cynthia Kurtz (see below) I hope to demonstrate how a project and project management can be improved strategically and tactically to improve decision making, collaboration and adaptability to name but three potential impacts.
Participatory Narrative Inquiry is an approach in which groups of people participate in gathering and working with raw stories of personal experience in order to make sense of complex situations for better decision making. – Cynthia Kurtz
Anyway, it is safe to assume that this will be an enjoyable afternoon engaging and collaborating with others on the perspective of Project Management. Further details including how to book the workshop can be found here.
For all those people who expressed an interest but were unable to make the last Masterclass in Peterborough I am running at least three more in the coming months in London 18th November, Birmingham 1st December and hopefully Amsterdam in early 2015…
will take participants step by step through:
- increased participation and communication using story,
- problem solving,
- prioritising and storyboarding actions,
- feedback & measurement
- developing communities
- how to manage your knowledge for strategic advantage
leading to a comprehensive Ecosystem framework that can be used to highlight, develop and improve:
- awareness of the present
- decision making
- leading to sustainability
More details and how to book are available on the Eventbrite site here.
Earlybird discounted tickets are available so please book early.
Alternatively I am happy to discuss running this event in-house or exclusively for your group or community
I am hugely honoured to have been invited to co-facilitate a session (with Sarah Jane Chimbwandera, Director of Biodiversity, Evidence and Policy of the Surrey Wildlife Trust) at the Natural Capital Initiative ‘Valuing our life support Systems’ natural capital summit in November in London.
The summit will:
- Derive a common understanding of what natural capital really means
- Understand in plain language the natural and social science behind it
- Find and demonstrate ways in which sectors and initiatives can work, and are working, together to apply it
- Identify ways of ensuring that practical responses have scientific rigour
- Communicate recommendations for ways forward across the sectors
Our Session, on the morning of day 2, is entitled: Natural capital and storytelling - This session will investigate innovative ways to communicate the concept of natural capital to the public. Our aim being to gain maximum participation of the delegates as to what is important, what can be done and how to put this into a story.
And what is ‘Natural Capital’? you might still be asking…
”Natural capital refers to the elements of nature that produce value (directly and indirectly) to people, such as the stock of forests, rivers, land, minerals and oceans. It includes the living aspects of nature (such as fish stocks) as well as the non-living aspects (such as minerals and energy resources). Natural capital underpins all other types of capital… and is the foundation on which our economy, society and prosperity is built.”
- The Natural Capital Committee
I ran a very successful Participatory Narrative Inquiry workshop for the Surrey Trust back in May and we have designed our session at the summit around the ‘best bits’. We are hoping to do an early trial with local businesses in early October as a trial run. I will post the outcome and lessons learned shortly after.
On Friday I spent a very enjoyable night at the Bourne Corn Exchange watching what I believe must be the best tribute band in existence, Limehouse Lizzy.
Now I never switch off at gigs looking for examples of innovation and this night was no exception. Singer Wayne Ellis (in the centre of the picture) is a hugely powerful vocalist and bass player but tonight he had a very bad throat infection. After a couple of songs he looked ready to give up when up stepped guitarist Tim Read, on the left and sang lead vocal through the rest of the set.
I realised three important lessons watching the band with its new dynamic:
- When the Russian, Altshuler analysed the patent database in the 1960s to come up with his 40 TRIZ inventive principles, number 40 was ‘Composite Materials’ and here it was being illustrated by a guitarist who had the ‘composite’ skills of being able to sing and play guitar at the same time.
- When a system, such as a band like Limehouse Lizzy needs to be resilient, they have to maintain some surplus capacity ie the ability of band members to sing. If the band had simply recruited guitarists who could play guitar they would have had to have cancelled the gig.
- When he realised the vocals would be taken care of, Wayne simply smiled and told us gruffly “ I will just sit back and play bass then” which made me realise sometimes that the striker needs to get back and help out in defence.