The attraction of uncertainty in #storytelling

One of my favourite, must read, blogs is that of Cynthia Curtz who worked with Dave Snowden on developing the cynefin framework. On Wednesday Cythia posted on her blog about her definition of a story and how it really does depend on the person. What really caught my eye was her original definition from her book that I had not seen before stating how:

if there is no uncertainty there is no story. Uncertainty is the reason stories draw us in and engage us, because they tap into problem-solving instincts that have evolved over millions of years.

This gave me an Aha moment of staggering proportions.

Ten years ago I had seen Dave Snowden capture so much attention with his conference presentations that I wondered to myself whether I could cover similar themes but using ecological stories. I searched naturalists autobiographies, ecology journals and nature reserve publications and eventually struck lucky, I found the badger man story. Then we crafted our own story which turned out to be Bat Milk. Both these stories resonated so well at KM conferences and were remembered long after the first telling.

I now realise, in hindsight and with Cynthia’s insight that both stories, in trying to explain complexity ideas, had uncertainty as a key component. In the telling of the tale I had built in the necessary uncertainty to maintain intrigue and buy-in.

Then in 2005 I was playing around with story templates and how to build perfect springboard stories around complex tales and I drew up this prototype template which I never ever used, but now thanks to Cynthia I just might…

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1 Comment

  1. Pingback: E L S U A ~ A KM Blog Thinking Outside The Inbox by Luis Suarez » Silence of Love and the Power of Storytelling

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