801 Working with Stories: Behavioral Change for the Ornery

1:00 PM - 2:00 PM Thursday, December 8

Don’t you just love it when people motivate you to change your behavior? Do you relish the prospect of a good, long look in the mirror? If you said no to either of these questions (or if you hear this from people you are trying to help), you might want to learn more about participatory story work. Working with stories is an ancient and universal—but recently neglected—way for people to surprise and motivate themselves by playfully and obliquely looking back over their experiences to discover lessons they never noticed they learned and energy they never knew they had. By paying serious yet creative attention to the ground truth of their experiences, they can open their eyes and nudge their ornery selves in a better direction.

This session will introduce you to the growing field of participatory narrative inquiry, which helps groups of people explore their experiences to surprise themselves with new insights and new energy for positive change. You’ll explore foundational concepts, learn from war stories of eye-opening projects, and gain effective story-based activities you can use right away.

Cynthia Kurtz


PNI Institute

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 trained in ethology, Cynthia discovered the field of organizational narrative at IBM Research, where she conducted research 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. She has consulted on over 100 narrative projects. Cynthia’s textbook, Working with Stories in Your Community or Organization, is a vital resource for participatory story work.

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