Last week I was asked to present at the World Usability Day events in Christchurch. The topic was Usability: Evangelising for Change. Usability isn’t my field, so I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to say. I have in my career however, been driven to evangelise many new approaches and methods. This includes web design (in the mid 90s), Intranets, Knowledge Management, Change Management, dataset federation, Grid computing, the list goes on. As I put together the presentation, I realised that almost every means for evangelising that I had used over the years included a strong narrative component.
In the presentation used Steve Denning’s World Bank story as an example (using a story to promote the use of story…). In thinking about whether diagrams (e.g. consultant’s 2×2 matrices) had ever worked for me, as they hadn’t for Steve so he relied on story, I realised that where these had been successful they had used narrative elements. Effectively we had found metaphors that resonated with the client, (e.g. an ecological metaphor for knowledge flow at an environmental research institute) and used these in diagrams to represent a KM strategy.
Another method that works well is centred around the “you can’t be a prophet in your own land” truism. This involves getting your customers to tell their success stories. If we look back to many successful prophets and evangelists, they conveyed their new and often controversial ideas through parables and fables.
Stories, stories, everywhere. Here are the presentation slides.