SPA Conference session: Just-In Time Story Telling

One-line description:Developing Essential Story Telling Techniques in Agile Software Development
Session format: Long tutorial (330 mins) [read about the different session types]
Professionals in the software community will recognize that, on one hand, they are already dependent on stories as an essential tool:
•Scenarios and Play Scripts for business strategic planning, innovation, and change.
•Scenarios are stories about objects working together to accomplish tasks for ‘requirements discovery and documentation.’
•Object-orientation uses stories to define and design objects as well as for capturing how objects interact to complete tasks.
•Use-cases are formalized stories. UML provides formal diagrams for capturing and representing stories.
•Agile relies on the User Story to frame a unit of work and to limn the nature of the work to be done.

On the other hand, it’s equally clear to those same professionals that we fail utterly to train them in the savoir-faire of story collection and construction and that real ‘stories’ degenerate into ‘requirements.’ We also fail to help professionals hone basic intellectual skills (such as prediction, modeling, evaluation, diagnostics, or planning) through the solicitation and analysis of stories.
The underlying premise of this tutorial is that we learn (and teach/lead) most effectively with just-in-time stories, engaging and memorable tales relevant to the matters at hand, rather than lectures, or instruction manuals, or passively watching demonstrations.

This long tutorial, with a maximum amount of time devoted to hands-on experimentation, lays out the basics in story construction and types of stories most useful to software development and the interface between IT and end users.

Audience background:Anybody who wants to explore storytelling as a way to improve learning, teaching and collaboration is welcome to join. A sense of humor and willingness to engage in stand-up comedy is encouraged.
Benefits of participating:Participants will become better storytellers and story listeners.
Materials provided:Handout
Bibliography (Roger Schank is the main author but we also draw from improvisation artists, our own publications, anthropologist Clifford Geertz, and software’s Peter Naur and Richard Gabriel.)
Models, Templates for stories of different kinds.
Process:Mini-exposés, planned stories, spontaneous story-telling, video-clips, group discussion, mini-writer’s groups for story critique and improvement.
Detailed timetable:
13 to 13: 20 Introductions through Introductory Stories
13:20 to 14:15 Ubiquity and Purpose of Stories
Stories are everywhere! 5 short stories across the spectrum of organizational life and Agile methodology
How stories enable thought. A brief overview of some of Roger Schank’s material and examples
Hands-on exercise: collect stories from participants on 4x6 cards and post on walls.
14:15 to 14:30 – Break
14:30 to 15:15 Story Analysis
How to construct a good story
Story Frames
The affective and semantic aspects of stories
Hands on Exercise: Return to the stories on the wall and critique someone else’s stories
15:15 to 15:30 Break
15:30 to 16:30 Telling Stories
When and Why. Patterns for Story Craft
Stories gone awry and dangerous
Hands on Exercise: edit existing stories or write new ones

16:30 to 17:00 Working Tea
Hands on Exercise: Selection of the best of stories in categories
17:00 to 18:00 How We Capture, Recall, and Share Stories
Hands on Exercise: Story Maps, Mandalas, Memory Palace and Software Tools
The Social life of information
18:00 to 18:15 BREAK
18:15 to 18:40 Building a Culture of Story Telling
How to ‘Institutionalize’ Story Telling
18:40 to 19:00 Wrap Up and Mood Wall

Outputs:A collection of the stories produced by the group will be put together and forwarded to the participants as a supplement to the tutorial handouts.
History:This presentation and format is new but discussions of storytelling have been a part of previous publications by the tutorial leaders, notably through Onwards! InfoQ and Plop.
1. Jenny Quillien
2. david west