Tuesday, January 16, 2007

please steal this idea

If a film crew had been wandering the halls of the college where I am teaching, we would have a record today of the difference between conventional teaching and integrated thinking. In one classroom, a teacher would be very competent as she walked students through the basic structure of presentation making. In another, students are laughing, talking, and using paint programs to customize graphics. Those students are learning by doing, and what they are learning is that presentations tell stories.

Those students are using powerpoint to illustrate true life stories from their own experience of being a kid or interacting with kids. At first, they are sure this has nothing to do with business. Later, as they are instructed to draw "morals" from their stories, they come up with the staples of management theory:
Listen to your boss - s/he is quite often right
Don't walk on thin ice
Share ideas so they don't end up splattered all over
Don't shoot at hippos (my favourite!).

They begin with a story that belongs to them. They end up with a message that belongs to everyone in the class. Along the way, they figure out the computer program and experiment with design and with cooperation. They laugh - a lot. They learn that stories they thought were just about them have messages that apply to everyone in the room. They learn they have something to say.

How is business different when everyone making a presentation has an authentic message? How is business different when the message being broadcast begins with experience that is specific, real, and memorable? How is business different when people use stories to bridge the gap between "me" and "we"?

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