In a world where so many get their start in business storytelling through branding and marketing, Cynthia Kurtz followed a different route in: through science and through work at IBM research. She has pioneered a field she calls Participative Narrative, blending participative story work with action research in organizations.  She’s written an amazingly useful guide to participatory story work, called Working with Stories in Your Community or Organization.

Highlights from the show

  • What is participatory narrative.
  • How Cynthia came into the field from a background in science.
  • How she’s been applying the process in organizations, and coaching others to do the same.
  • What not to do when you ask for stories.
  • How to combine story-seeking approaches and encourage participation.
  • Why you shouldn’t ask people to “tell you a story.”
  • Why story listening is critical and how you can improve yours.

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About my guest

Cynthia F. Kurtz is a researcher, software developer, consultant, and writer who has been helping communities and organizations work with their stories since 1999. Originally an ethologist, Cynthia discovered the field of organizational narrative at IBM Research, where she conducted research projects to help IBM develop internal and client services centered around organizational stories. She built on that work at IBM’s Institute for Knowledge Management and at the consulting firm Cognitive Edge before launching her independent consultancy in 2009. She has consulted on over eighty narrative projects for a variety of clients in government, for-profit, and non-profit sectors. In 2008 she self-published the first edition of her textbook,  Working with Stories in Your Community or Organization. Now in its third edition, the book is widely considered a vital resource for participatory story work. Cynthia lives in upstate New York with her husband and son.

The Show Notes

Check out:Working with Stories in Your Community or Organization or read learn more about Cynthia and read  excerpts here: www.workingwithstories.org/

You can also learn more about participatory narrative at PNI.org.