Storytelling as a Manager Coaching Technique LO9803

Campbell,Robert (
Fri, 6 Sep 1996 17:58:49 -0500

Replying to LO9252 --

It looks like the "storytelling as a coaching technique" thread is dying
and unfortunately I've been behind my reading, so it has taken awhile to
respond. I did want to point out that there is some very good cognitive
psychology research that backs this up as a valuable tool to facilitate
learning. Much of this comes from work done at the Institute for the
Learning Sciences at Northwestern University.

>First, some basic principles:
>1)Story is one of the most basic and effective memory organization
>packets used by the human mind. We learn from stories - particularly
>when we perceive those stories as relevant to the task at hand.
>2)When we encounter an expectation failure (when something we expect to
>happen doesn't) or encounter difficulties in our work process or
>results, we are particularly susceptible and ready to learn.
>3)A key activity of the mind when encountering an expectation failure
>is to try and retrieve a memory organization packet (story, parable,
>favorite saying, previous learning, etc.) that is relevant to the
>problem at hand and tweak some relevant meaning or help from it that
>can bring understanding to the current problem. This activity is
>essentially learning at its most basic level.

Below is a simple outline for coaches on how to apply these principles as
they review a team's progress. This has been applied to team-oriented
classroom-based simulations as well as real-life work teams. Simple
though it may be, it has also proven to be quite effective.

Conducting a coach's checkpoint:

1. Assess progress - Ask questions and review materials to assess the
team's progress against the specific outcomes or deliverables towards
which they are currently working. This assessment should focus both on
outcome and process.

2. Solicit war stories from the team - For each significant issue you
uncover, ask participants to recall and share real experiences where they
encountered a similar situation. The war story can be positive or
negative. We often learn best from our mistakes. Ask for the lessons
learned by this experience. Ask the team how these "lessons learned"
apply to their current situation. Then ask how these "lessons learned"
might apply to other work situations.

3. Share personal war stories - For each significant issue you uncover,
if you haven't been able to adequately address the issue via participant
war stories, share a relevant war story of your own. The same
principles apply.

4. Plan the team's next steps - Facilitate the team in defining specific
next steps for the team. Some of these should directly address the
issues raised earlier in the team checkpoint and should apply the
"lessons learned" that were uncovered during the story-telling process.

5. Capture the lessons learned - Ask the team to summarize the key
"lessons learned" from the checkpoint and document them where they are
visible to the entire team. Remind the team that these points will help
them as they continue their current work and will be useful in future
work efforts as well.

Simple, but effective. Thoughts? Comments?

>Rob Campbell - Director of Learning
>Cerner Corporation
>2800 Rockcreek Parkway
>Kansas City, MO 64117-2551
>(816) 472-1024 x3063 (816) 474-1742 FAX


"Campbell,Robert" <>

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