Collective Story-telling

Getting groups to relate personal and group perspectives through a narrative pattern: from 'me-ness' to 'we-ness'
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Tool Purpose

  • Sometimes, egos impede the smooth development of an effective working team.
  • This tool helps a newly-formed team in the transition from 'me-ness' to 'we-ness'.
  • It was developed within a European (UK) context to establish a group identity quickly.
  • It was intended to facilitate design collaboration in a team of strangers / newcomers.

Tool Context

  • This tool could develop on from and prepare the participant for other tools and approaches.
  • It allows the participant to become involved in weaving a core story pattern which reveals itself through
  • 1. interaction with other participants, thus developing group identification (see participant-as-observer model).
  • 2. physical and spatial pattern, thus developing a three dimensional understanding of a narrative structure involving senses, words, images and diagrams;
  • This is important for anyone who requires a team to develop in order to work together quickly.
  • This might replace 'bonding' or 'team-building' activities that already exist in the business/private/corporate sector as it is is designed to work specifically with creatives.
  • When people get into groups they reflect on their own experience and may not have a chance to identify with the group in such an explicit way.
  • This could come into action when teams present their briefs
  • This could also be used when individuals have introduced their props and initial group discussion start
  • This can be a reflective tool, for example, when recounting the experience of the dance the group could all tell the story
  • Collective story telling bonds the group, method to bond group

Tool Process

  • This tool is dependent upon a previous tool as this will form the core of the collective story that is to be woven. participant-as-observer
  • Present the group with a scenario or the participants may go through a group experience, such as a dance or lecture.
  • The participants each tell the story of their experience to the wider group from their own perspective.
  • This story focusses on "I".
  • The other participants listen but can express agreement or disagreement - they should not jump in and tell their story.
  • Each participant has a turn
  • A different participant should act as note-taker during each story
  • These notes should be placed between the group and a story board or map should be drawn by the group noting similarities and differences within a core story
  • The core story focusses on "we".
  • The core story can then be used as a collective experience to bond the group
  • The process in the example below is slightly different from the one given above.

Tool Example

Image Image
From ME to WE!

Use of tool for the Pines Calyx workshop

Five levels of story-telling
In this exercise the participants are asked to go through the medium of story-telling process the walk and the talks. This processing takes place at five levels, each allocated 7 minutes. The participants are only informed of one level at a time. Whilst they are talking, the participants are also asked to visually record their stories through drawing, one colour of pens for each level. The participants are asked to go round the table in order as they narrate, and to remember to share the space.

Five levels of processing 

  • Level 1. Sensual 7 minutes

Prompt: What did you see, what did you smell, what did it feel like, what were the sounds?

  • Level 2. Factual 7 minutes

Prompt: What did you learn, what facts did you find interesting?

  • Level 3. Connectivity/systemic/the outside world 7 minutes

Prompt: How did what you learnt relate to the outside world, other systems, what are the relations between the talks?

  • Level 4. Future – what ifs 7 minutes

Prompt: How might you apply what you learnt and experienced to a futures perspective, 10 years ahead or more?

  • Level 5. Summary – retell to the facilitator 7 minutes

Prompt: What is your story?

  • Continue drawing. Everybody has to take part.
  • Total time needed: 35 minutes
  • Data carrier resulting from this tool: the story map
  • Resources required for this tool:

*Big piece of paper
*Markers in 5 colours

Tool History

(Lockheart, Tham et al. 2008)

Suggestions for development