Often, at the end of my training sessions, I invite people to create a circle and imagine that they each hold ribbons and threads in their hands, enough for each person in the group. I then ask them to think about who in the group they had known or worked with before and imagine a thread going to that person, across the circle and one coming back to them, from that person.
I then ask others, 'who did you know or work with?' and I move around the circle helping them visualise the connections. Of course many of the group will not have worked closely with each other before, would not have shared stories or ideas, even if they worked in the same school, same business or the same office!
I then ask them to imagine a student, child or work colleague resting on top of these threads of communication and connection. It is obvious that they would not be supported enough and would fall through the gaps. I then ask the group to imagine those threads now going to every person they have worked with during our time together and imagine the threads coming back to them. They can easily sense and visualise the difference. I once more ask them to imagine a student, work colleague or new employee lying on top and it is easily apparent that a strong, supportive, web of connection and communication has occurred during the training session. I then point out that they still hold the ends of those threads and it is their job to keep connected and also to take the threads out and weave more connections to support the people within their specific work places.
It is a very powerful exercise and for me it sums up the power of shared stories and the power that comes into play when they interconnect.
It is very obvious when these networks do not exist and people end up 'falling through the gaps.' For me a huge area where there needs to be more intersections of knowledge and communication is within healthcare. Often my experience of medical consultants and experts is one of separation, as though each specialist invites the patient into the narrative bubble of the specialists own knowledge; perhaps endocrinology for example. If the patient's symptoms do not fit into that narrative they are then sent to another specialist, in another bubble and so on and so forth. I feel that the medical world has not heard of Venn diagrams! The patient should be at the centre and everything else should connect through them. We know that often a patient can have an endocrine issue that causes mental health issues. If that connection is not made then the patient is not fully supported.
I am hoping I will have some medical specialists sign up for the online course I am about to launch on Narrative4Change. The pilot programme will be for 6 months and include a residential weekend for all members, (limited to 20) and then a series of fortnightly coaching sessions and tasks that are tailored to each participants individual needs and situation.It is open to a range of people who are interested in story, from CEO's to performance storytellers, teachers to speech therapists. I am incredibly excited about the potency of this mix with regards to the power of intersecting stories.
Imagine what can be learnt when a social worker talks about trauma and narrative and a CEO talks about strategic narrative and a performance storyteller talks about use of voice and body in telling stories. What a rich mine of creative possibilities, skills and knowledge we can tap into and how much we can learn from each other.
It is well known that new ways of thinking and problem solving often come when you bring together two things that normally would not meet. That is how sticky tape and velcro came into existence. Imagine what will come into existence, what will grow and be nurtured into flowering, with such people sharing. I am filled with a sense of something wonderful.
Incidentally, if you are interested in signing up for the course, (details are still being finalised regarding venues for the residential and costs) please email me.