Organizational story circles

We all tell stories at work every day, whether it’s over lunch, by the water cooler, or in a meeting such as project management or a performance review. These stories are inevitable, because storytelling is part of being human. They are important and valuable for many reasons including, culture and team building; communication; problem solving; mentoring; and more. This kind of informal storytelling is great and tells you that people want to feel included, but it’s limited. You can’t really use these stories as data, as formal examples, or for training, because it all happens so casually. There is a more inclusive, structured, and focused process called story circles that gives every participant a voice and can reveal both the joys and frustrations of organizational work, culture, and life.

A story circle is a facilitated storytelling experience. There is usually a theme for each story circle–previous examples include how I came to the company; a time when I helped someone at work; an uncomfortable experience and how it was dealt with; a time when I used our products outside of work. Participants know the theme ahead of time, and then share their story in the story circle.

The benefits are substantial and may include:

  • Everyone has a chance to speak
 and all voices are welcome;
  • Participants hear stories that reflect their experience so they know they aren’t alone
  • Stories evoke empathy and relationships, so participants care more about each other and the organization;
  • It builds a deeper listening practice in the organization
  • Participants can explore difficult topics in a safe space;
  • The process is applicable to groups of varied size and works well with diverse participants
  • Time and location is flexible and predictable
  • Shared stories may reveal the temperature of the organization;
  • Focused on experiences and emotions in response to issues and culture, rather than potentially judgmental yes or no answers;
  • Data, trends, and history may be noted;
  • And more.

Thinkstory is now offering facilitated organizational story circles to help your organization become more inclusive and story-centered. All options include one 30-minute planning meeting (during which a prompt appropriate to the organization will be selected) and one follow-up meeting (which includes observations from the facilitator and next steps) as well as a handout and prompt list.

  • Option one: One facilitated story circle. This is ideal for organizations that already have a strong story practice and are not in crisis.
  • Option two: One preliminary 60-minute storytelling workshop and one facilitated story circle. This is often the preferred option for organizations that don’t have a strong story practice in place.
  • Option three: Three facilitated story circles. This is the preferred option for organizations that are working to incorporate storytelling and listening into their practice. A preliminary 60-minute storytelling workshop is available as an add-on.
  • Option four: A 90-minute story circle training. This is for organizations that want to run the story circles themselves. This is the preferred option for organizations that already have some story practice in place. A facilitated story circle is available as an add-on.

We look forward to helping you develop a storytelling practice in your organization. Get in touch to discuss which option is best for you, pricing, timing, and more.

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