IAF Methods

Truth and Story Workshop

by for . Last edit was about 2 years ago
9 - 24 25 - 400

Using stories to reveal significance

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Participants create a set of stories that tell of a significant event in the life of a company or organization and to experience the shared sense of wonder in hearing great stories about the organization.


You will be able to upload attachments once after you create the method.


  • Voice or video recorder (with adequate permissions)
  • Flipchart, markers



Setting: You may want to set this up so the stories can be recorded.

Ideal conditions: A large group with space to move their chairs around to different configurations.

Pre-Work Required: Select stories to be used and the focus question needs to be thought through.

Type of Facilitator-Client Relationship: Some level of trust is required.

Facilitator personality fit: The facilitator needs to be able to tell stories well.



1. This workshop is an opportunity for each of use to share our stories about our organization.

2. Stories are very important and we are just now beginning to understand how important they are. Let me share one that I like.

3. Give an example of a story.

4. As you can see stories can say a great deal.


1. I would like for us to tell stories about why it is important to work in our organization. Write, "What is an experience you have had that showed you why it is important to work here?"on the board.

2. Tell the "Truth and Story" story. (See download.)

3. I would like us to divide into groups of 8 (this is for a large group up to several hundred people.)

4. I would like each of you to tell a story. The story answers the question, "What is an experience you have had that showed you why it is important to work here?"

5. Take 45 minutes to do this. Are there any questions?

6. At the end of the 45 minutes. I want you to now select the story from your group that best communicates why it is important.

7. If there are many groups, have them combine into groups made up of two of the original groups. Have them share the two stories that were selected. After the two stories are told select the one that best communicates why it is important to work for this organization.

8. If there are 8 or fewer groups you can go directly to the next step.

9. I would like each of the storytellers to come to the front of the room. (Arrange seats at the from of the room for each of the storytellers.)

10. Once they are all at the front of the room you can explain about deaf applause. Normally, we show our appreciation for a story by clapping but clapping breaks the moment of the story's end. In that magic moment at the end of a great story, we drive the magic away. The deaf have another way of showing their appreciation. They raise their hands in the air, fingers apart and twist their wrists like turning dials quickly. And of course there is the elf applause, done by sticking your hands out and wiggling your finders showing the stardust falling.

11. Ok, let us hear the first story.

12. At the end of the story do the deaf applause.

13. Repeat this for each of the stories.

14. At this point you can walk behind each of the storytellers and mention very briefly the key image from the story. You can also use this to create a composite story.
Composite Story

15. Using a flipchart to capture the insights. What are some of the themes that run through all or most of these stories? Write them down. You want a few, 5 - 15.

16. What were some striking images, things that you were moved by?

17. Who were some important characters?

18. What were some key events?

19. Working in the same groups we began with I would like you to create a story, a composite story and as such it does not need to be historically accurate but it should be a true story like Shakespeare's Hamlet is a true story but not history.

20. You have 30 minutes. You will need to assign a storyteller and someone who will type up the story. (This can be the same person.) Are there any questions?

21. When they are read, have each of the stories told using the deaf applause.


22. What are some of the words or images that were striking?

23. Where in any of the stories were you emotionally involved?

24. What are the lessons from these stories?

25. What parts would we need to keep?

26. We want to create one or more stories. Who will take these stories and create one or more organizational stories? Who would like to help?


1. Thank the group for the effort.

2. Announce the next steps in the process if there are any.

3. Close the session.


For smaller groups you can divide into groups with smaller numbers. The goal is to have at least 3 stories told at the end. In smaller groups you don't have to have teams join together to share their best stories.


Follow-Up Required: Check on those creating a composite story and those typing up the stories

Usual or Expected Outcomes: A number of stories


Source: Mary-Alice Arthur

Derived from: Mary-Alice Arthur is the inspiration for this workshop. She led a similar one at the IAF Europe 2005 Conference. Jon Jenkins wrote this version of the workshop

Alternative names: Organizational Story Workshop

Comments (1) ( 4.0  avg / 1 ratings)

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  • Story downloads are missing here. They should be relatively easy to make up. I believe the "Truth and Story" one refers to understanding that sometimes facts can be remembered differently, but the underlying truth of a story can still be there.

    about 2 years ago