Humans have harnessed storytelling as a powerful tool for sharing wisdom and finding solutions for centuries. Experiencing insights from multiple perspectives offers the opportunity to expand mindsets, catalyze knowledge creation, and enhance empathy for greater connection and stronger, more resilient communities.
Last month, our team showcased the NovoEd social and collaborative capability-building learning platform during the “Night of the Roundtable: A Learning & Development Storytelling Feast” event in Orlando. This intimate evening of live narration demonstrated how sharing stories in a group setting is an effective approach for individual and organizational transformation.
What can baggage claim teach us about innovation?
Drawing inspiration from the Arthurian legend of the Knights of the Round Table, this event illustrated how a joining of divergent forces can lead to the most creative and sustainable learning solutions available.
A gathering of learning leaders, most of whom are CHROs and VPs of HR for several prominent industry organizations, came together to hear from Stephen Shapiro, author, speaker, and consultant who created and led the 20,000-person innovation practice at Accenture; and Bobby Wesley, marketing and strategy consultant and co-host of the Orlando Story Club — the central Florida city’s version of The Moth.
Shapiro shared an intriguing story from his book Invisible Solutions that demonstrated how reframing problems through alternative lenses can reveal groundbreaking solutions hidden in plain sight. Shapiro’s methodology provides a valuable framework built on reducing and increasing abstraction, changing perspectives, switching elements, and zooming in and out that gives transformational leaders a fresh outlook for better business outcomes.
His story described passengers’ complaints about long-perceived wait times at a busy airport’s baggage claim. Airport executives solved for one overarching question – How do we speed up the bags? – and subsequently reduced wait times by 50 percent. In Shapiro’s words, these outcomes should have had the executives “popping the champagne” in celebration of a successful fix.
Unfortunately, passengers remained equally frustrated by wait times at baggage claim, despite the measurably speedier bag-to-claim trajectory. Shapiro explained that the executives were better served by viewing the challenge through different lenses. The ensuing, effectual solution: prolonging the amount of time that it took passengers to disembark from the plane and arrive at baggage claim instead of accelerating the amount of time that it took bags to reach them. Extending the trek from plane to claim made passengers’ perceived wait times much shorter, even though the bags arrived at the baggage claim in the same amount of time.
Putting ideas into practice
Meanwhile, Wesley’s engaging tale served as a perfect companion piece to Shapiro’s insights. The seasoned storyteller’s accounts of his early entrepreneurial endeavors revealed similarly invaluable lessons about utilizing various mindsets to acquire capabilities and expertise that serve us in all areas of life.
Among topics discussed were the following:
Why are we hardwired as human beings to ask ineffective questions?
How can we systematically improve our ability to ask effective questions that lead to innovation and real solutions?
How can we move from idea-based innovation to question-based innovation that drives higher ROI?
“At a time when individuals and organizations are dealing with a barrage of challenges, the event was an opportunity to celebrate, conversate, and innovate the finer things in life and business,” said Shapiro.
Wesley added: “A table, round or otherwise, is the perfect setting for storytelling: It’s where we come together, share meals, and connect with one another. Meeting together at the Night of the Roundtable evening was a wonderful opportunity to not only share my experiences in business, the arts, and storytelling, but to learn from the experiences of those who joined us.”
“Night of the Roundtable: An L&D Storytelling Feast” is part of a series of experiential concepts developed for NovoEd’s The LX — a kaleidoscopic community of learning leaders. The LX brings torchbearers and trailblazers in the People space together to connect the dots to a brighter, wiser future. Click here to join us.
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