Project Story Outlines – Review

February 6, 2013 at 3:07 pm Leave a comment

On my previous two posts I went over some potential project story outlines, with the Project Manager as the main character or the Organisation as the main character.  This time I want to compare these approaches.

The main difference between the two types is obviously that the Organisation stories are more abstract than the Project Manager stories.  Not getting the personalities of those involved in the project into the story has a number of effects.  On the plus side it can take some of the likelihood of getting fired out of the story while still remaining honest and on topic.  It gives the project manager some distance, a way to think about the project more objectively (rather than ranting) while still creating a story that will be interesting to the audience.  However, I’m not convinced that Organisation stories will be as interesting in general.

Really good storytellers can make non-living things into fantastic characters, but I’m not convinced that the many storytellers would succeed in making a story from the organisation’s point of view really interesting if they were do it in a traditional format.  Organisations just aren’t as dynamic or intriguing as people.  On their own they don’t have motivations or desires.  I don’t think it’s impossible to make a story about an organisation compelling, I just don’t think it’ll be easy.

Leaving aside how easy or diffcult such stories would be to tell, do the Organisation stories put forward the right message?  I would argue yes.  Not only do there seem to be subtly more ways you can slant the story’s message to fit your audience, I would argue that it also communicates the message in a more helpful fashion.  When telling the Project Manager stories everything gets coloured by how the PM sees things – it is their point of view or how they were affected after all.  The Organisation stories on the other hand get to the point of the project – what effect did it have on the organisation?  Which, lets face it, is what people want to hear about.

But if it’s dry and boring because it’s too abstract will it have any more effect than a standard final report?  I think so.  There’s something about the structure of a story compared to a report which is just more engaging.  I’m pretty sure I’ve seen studies people have done and everything, but I’m not going to go trawling through the internet trying to find them again.  I also think that digital stories, with their engaging formats, make it easier for potentially novice storytellers to grab the audience’s attention even if they have some fairly dry subject matter.

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Entry filed under: Digital storytelling, storytelling for projects.

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