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Story Listening

Story Listening

What is the Story Listening story tactic?

Listen to other people's stories when you need their wisdom or support. Don't just talk at them!

If you want to be an innovator, you need to be a story- listener as much as a storyteller. You need to gather information as well as explain your idea. The wisdom you need is out there: it's in other people's stories. Just listen--and ask the right questions.

Watch and Listen! Add the Abstractions tactic for an immersive approach to story-gathering.

How to use the Story Listening story tactic

Prof Gary Klein has spent years interviewing firefighters, pilots, nurses and soldiers about life-or-death decisions, made under extreme pressure. He looks for teachable moments:
stories of how people deal with change and new information.

This approach is inspired by Prof Klein's methods.
What happens when you listen like this to your users, colleagues or stakeholders?

1st listen: Is this a memorable story?

  • Why does this story stick in your subject's memory?
  • What's the strong emotion attached to this story?

2nd listen: Create a basic timeline

  • What were you trying to achieve?
  • What happened?

3rd listen: Add key decisions to the timeline

  • What were your options as the situation unfolded?
  • What if you'd tried something else?

4th listen: Identify the expertise

  • Where might a novice have made mistakes if they'd been dealing with the same situation instead of you?
  • What might someone with different expertise have missed that you spotted?

Turn the teachable moments into a story using No Easy Way or Man in a Hole story arcs.

Credit: G.Klein, Sources of Power.

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Story Listening is one of 54 storytelling recipe cards inside the Storyteller Tactics card deck.

Ditch dull presentations and tell great stories that influence and inspire your team, stakeholders and customers.