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In April Bev was in London working with ABSugar, a global corporate group of companies seeking to develop synergies across its businesses in different parts of the world by cultivating communities of practice.

After the session, Debbie Jennsen, who is leading the ABSugar initiative, asked me if I could connect her with people at Deutsche Bank, also based in London. She had seen the blog post we had written about them “Social learning at Deutsche Bank” and that story made Debbie want to talk with them directly.

This made us reflect on the role of stories in our practice and the ways they reflect our roles as consultants and what we do to:

  • Open up imagination: expand what is possible by showing what others are doing
  • Carry learning: convey what we and our clients are learning about the practice of enabling social learning
  • Connect practitioners: connect people within and across sectors and disciplines to develop their social learning strategies and make them feel part of a broader movement
  • Reframe strategies: when we tell the story of an initiative, we do it from a given perspective, which tends to reframe what people are doing in ways that open up new possibilities for taking strategic action in developing social learning capability. It also refines and expands the perspective.

We are realizing that in deepening our own practice we are developing ourselves as a certain kind of story-teller and as a connector of people across the landscape. This is probably why one of our favorite assignments is to research and write up cases….

And perhaps the reason we get so excited about our BEtreat workshops is that they combine all these roles into one event.