Insight article

The story cave: stalactites and stalagmites

As you might expect, we talk a lot about stories around here at the Storytellers. And they come from a variety of places.

There are the stories of an organisation’s journey that we help craft with senior leadership teams. There are the illustrative stories employees tell of how the organisational narrative comes to life in their own roles. There are the pride stories that managers tell of how their teams rose to a particular challenge.

We don't, however, tend to talk a lot about cave geology.

But as I started thinking about how we might come up with a typology of all the different kinds of stories we tell with our clients, the image of a cave splashed to mind – an image of stalactites forming down from the ceiling, and stalagmites rising from the ground, meeting in the middle. (Unless I’ve got that backwards.)

Much of the work we do is around alignment. First in the senior leadership, and then in the organisation as a whole.

We ask senior leaders to formulate and share the story of their organisation and its journey – the stalactites. Then we ask teams and individuals throughout the organisation to personalise the story, to identify how their own practices and behaviours can align behind the broader organisational narrative – the stalagmites.

It’s not always easy process. That space between the floor and ceiling can be vast and dark, and certainly the two can miss each other. But when the two meet and form columns, the stories are no longer isolated, but joined up, and much stronger than they were before. And, fortunately, organisational alignment through storytelling happens a bit faster than the formation of cave rocks.


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Nailia Tasseel