As they draft a new Comprehensive General Plan, East Palo Alto officials are collecting oral histories of residents — a process praised as a novel approach to…
Love this story! It's about a city using the power of storytelling to chart their future. Hooray!
Don't you wish more organizations -- whether businesses, nonprofits, or governments -- would do the same? I know everyone's experience would be much richer with better outcomes, too.
My only little criticism of the process the City of East Palo Alto is using are the questions they are asking. They are OK. But if they reaslly wanted stories they would be using story prompts to make sure they really heard stories. The questions they are now using will get them information or opinions and maybe not stories.
Instead of asking, "How do you make use of the city's parks?" they could ask, "Tell me about some of the best times you've had in the city's parks..." The first question gets you information like, "We go picnicing, we use the playground, I like running in the park..."
If you ask the second question you actually get a very rich story that tells you more. "I really like to run in the park every morning. The scenery is beautiful and I like how the city replants its flowers each season so the park is constantly changing and pleasant to be in. I run with my buddies. It is easy to find parking and we can hang out at the picnic tables afterward."
You get the idea. We now have meaningful experiences to help guide decision-making about plant maintenance, parking facilities, places to congregate, etc. that we never would have gotten by asking the first information-based question.
So if you plan to do something similar in your organization, focus on the "Art of the Question" and investigate story prompts and the Appreciative Inquiry process for more help.
Many thanks to fellow curator Bill Palladino @LocalEconGuy for sending this article my way!
This review was written by Karen Dietz for her curated content on business storytelling atwww.scoop.it/t/just-story-it