Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Compelling stories, anyone?

For the past few months, the buzz word at the work place is culture change. An abstract concept that is difficult to grasp if where we're at is not dissected, analysed, and critiqued; and where we want to go is not defined. After all, the concept of the need for any change in itself implies that something is inherently imperfect in the system and that there is room for improvement. 

The group I found myself being in want to improve the way the institute tells its success stories and pitches its ideas so that it is continually able to address the needs of some of the poorest people in the world, people who produce and who eat rice.

This photo, for instance, is a good example of how the institute tells stories. It's the type that caters most likely to intellectuals, academicians... after all, look at how poor people have been reduced to dots on the world map. Yes, it is a highly informative and useful infographic but it's all highly cerebral. It doesn't move people to action. Perhaps it wasn't designed to do so... but that's a missed opportunity to hit two birds (report and move people) with one stone (the picture).

What the institute needs are compelling stories... and storytellers. 

This ragtag group I found myself in turn out to be lively and very communicative, perhaps the beginnings of a group of storytellers or of people provoking others to tell stories. 

Do we know what stories to tell? Not yet, because the institute will have a say in that. 

Do we know how to tell those stories? Not yet definitively... but we know what we don't want to see in yet another story. 

Do we know what success looks like? Not yet, but we have educated guesses.

It's all abstract right now but we'll get some clarity at some point. In the meantime, we muddle through the unknowns to define what, to us, are ways we could suggest improvements in our ways of telling stories. Our ideas may probably be shallow, given that most of us are scientists and not communications experts. But the comm experts can extract more meat from our ideas... I hope.