Category: Storytelling

Storytelling Exemplars

It’s been a wonderful month devoted to the art, practice, and power of Storytelling. We hope that you are inspired to assess what your organization’s story is today, collect stories tomorrow, and imagine the  positive changes will permeate within your future story as a result. This week we explore how elements as small as words – as menial as filling prescriptions, and as meaningful as implicit biases – can shape the stories that are being told about our Experiences.

Code Words Create Action

When we intentionally employ a different lexicon, it sparks change.  A small pub in Acworth, Georgia called Red Top Brewhouse choosing to lead the way in curbing sexual harassment by creating clear code words for any guest could use if they feel they are in an uncomfortable situation.  The message is posted inside all the restrooms and provides instructions for what to do.  While rarely used, these are meaningful words that empower change.

When a server or team member hears the phrase, they take action to keep the guest safe. This simple process provides safety to their guests and has changed the overall atmosphere of the brewhouse.

Other bars across the country are also employing secret safety lexicon – some creating a “bar menu” with code words that helps a guest  in fear share their concerns easily. Many call them “Angel Shots”

Angel Shot Neat – means the bartender will arrange for the guest to be escorted safely to their car.

Angel Shot With Ice – signals the bartender to arrange a ride for the guest.

Angel Shot With Lime – instructs the bartender to call the police.  

What lexicon, words or phrases might we need to create, design anew, or even leave behind to empower change and action in our organization?

Too Short a Story?

“There’s a bus coming in. A gork in two. Intermittent CP with SOB in five. And a soft tissue contusion below the fourth thoracic vertabrae in three.” Huh?

Like many industries, health care is filled with jargon and lexicon. Codes, acronyms, or difficult to follow medical language can prevent our team members, patients, and guests from fully dedicating themselves to our organization’s story, merely because they don’t understand. Jargon can alienate patients and guests who are often afraid to speak up and ask for explanations. Adorably exemplified in this Fast Company video, it doesn’t matter how old (or what kind of Muppet) you are, jargon is confusing and isolating.

While it’s easy for us to tell our team members not to use jargon, what’s more important is to be sure that every team member, provider, patient, and guest understands the conversation occurring around them. By narrating our Experience we ensure others understand what’s happening to, for, and around them.

Tell My Story

Even when we don’t see people, we’re often writing their story in our heads, making assumptions and creating a mental image. So what might we be missing out on? Our friends at Soul Pancake explore this mind-opening concept in their powerful video series, Tell My Story. Participants discover the pitfalls of assumptions and how their own biases are tough to avoid. While we’re all on our organizational missions to weave a positive and memorable story for our team members, providers, patients, and guests, we must remember that each one of these individuals is also creating and telling their own story. Assumptions, biases, and misunderstandings all impact the story we tell ourselves about caretakers, patients, clinic managers, billing specialists, environmental service team members, and…everyone.

Are we tuned into the assumptions, biases, and misunderstandings taking place throughout our organization? What are the impacts of these assumptions? How might we increase our ability to gather the real story and reduce our use of judgment, bias, and assumption?

Stories of Humanity

There is an invisible thread that weaves through the most compelling stories: our humanity. Recording and sharing stories of deep humanity evokes empathy and Connection from listeners. These are the easiest stories to tell, and the ones we have easiest access to in health care: stories of caregivers helping patients, of patients inspiring team members, of overcoming obstacles, and of new beginnings.

This week, we’ll explore three radically different ways that modern storytellers spin the tale of what it means to be human. Get inspired and start sharing the stories of humanity from your organization.

Are We Human?

All We Do

There’s a simple way to tell the stories of humanity: ask people for their stories. Driven by their belief that we are all equal, human, and deserving, British musical duo Oh Wonder (Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West) created an awe-inspiring interactive story map that explores the global theme of what it means to be human. To visualize the thread of humanity, the duo reached out to filmmakers, artists, and citizens of the internet to impart what they think it means to be human—to be alive. They asked people to share their stories, their thoughts, and their hearts.

Take a few minutes to watch Oh Wonder’s video. Mentally stimulating, aurally pleasing, and visually stunning, it will truly warm your heart.

What does it mean to be human? How might our deepest humanity live through the work we do every day? What more could we do to more fully understand the humanity of our team members, providers, patients, and guests?

Use the Force

Star Wars Disney

An alternative way to tell the stories of humanity is to flip the model: add humans into the story. When Disney opened a fully immersive Star Wars hotel on their Orlando property, we tuned in. All of the hotel’s cast members are dressed in character and costume, each guest receives their own storyline, and, since it’s meant to take place on a spaceship, windows look out to outer space. Quite literally, guests won’t stay at the hotel – they will become a part of the story. This ambitious hospitality Experience reshape what it means to be a fan, a guest, and a participant in a brand. It simultaneously set a new standard for both the entertainment and hospitality industries. Stay here, and the force will be with you, always.

Remember: the brand of your Experience is defined by the stories patients and guests live while interacting with your physical space and your team members. Make it your own.

A Storied Museum

People in Museum

The American Writers Museum in Chicago has a public hub for the art of Storytelling. Less of a memorial to writers and more of an interactive space to inspire the writers of the future, the museum uses art, technology, and changing exhibits to show that we are a literary people. We tend to think of writing as a finished thing – paper and words – but this museum explores what it means to be an American writer and celebrates the endeavor in and of itself. Among the many interactive exhibits, one features a quiet, thoughtful activity for visitors to actually become a part of the museum’s future. Guests write their own poem and leave them in a basket. All of the poems are incorporated into the compost of an onsite garden, letting the words merge with the earth and nurture future growth. Author Rosellen Brown summed up the heart of the museum. “We write stories.

How might we inspire our team members to take part in writing the story of our organizations? What if we created a space for writing and Storytelling?

The Art of Storytelling

Stories are everywhere – yet why is it that some come to the forefront, are remembered and retold, while others fade into the fabric of everyday? It’s not only the content of a story that makes it memorable, it is also the way in which it is told. Great storytellers display their finesse through the original, artistic way a story is shared. Whether visually, musically, or cerebrally, Storytelling is truly an art form. For some, it’s a natural gift, and for others, a skill that can be learned and crafted.

This week we’ll get to know a few of the “greats” in Storytelling and how their methods are redefining what it means to tell a story.


Health Heroes Stories

Since April 2020, the New York Times has artfully brought health care heroes Stories to life through the COVID-19 pandemic. This powerful tapestry of personal narratives from physicians, nurses, and care teams on the forefront of the pandemic tell the real story and impact of the virus. Each hero shares their unique perspective and interactions from these challenging times —  pulling back the curtain to the emotional strain and fatigue COVID-19 has placed on caregivers, patients, and families alike. It’s an important reminder to pause and ask questions, truly listen and learn other people’s stories. Simple prompts such as “what brought light to your day?” or “how are you taking care of yourself?” have the potential to unearth amazing Stories of Connection, bravery, and hope.  And in sharing these stories with others, it becomes an invisible thread that ties us to one another, creating a shared Experience.

The Experience Lab has also created a Storytelling mechanism to honor and celebrate health care heroes. The Health Hero Hotline amplifies the voices of citizens eager to share their gratitude with health care workers. These stories of hope and encouragement have become the soundtrack in breakrooms,  lunchrooms and drive time playlists.