Monday, August 22, 2016

Change Learners’ Minds By Changing The Stories They Tell - Tip #103

What is the Story Picture in Your Mind?

Suppose you received a message from your boss that he/she wants to see you as soon as you come in. However, it doesn’t say why. How would you react? What scenes are running in your head?

Here’s another scenario. What if your loved one is out of town on a business trip. You expect a text once he/she has reached the destination. True, the scheduled arrival was late last night but it’s already morning and no text has arrived. How does that make you feel? What thoughts are rushing through your mind?

Give yourself a few minutes to go through the questions and answer them. Is there a common thread in your answers? 

These events are both imagined situations and the answers you provided were based on a story you’re telling yourself. Whether positive or negative, the story you tell yourself is about what could possibly happen or what possibly happened.

Making Inferences, Recognizing Patterns

Telling ourselves stories isn’t limited to exercises like those above, though. Without even realizing it, we tell ourselves stories all the time. We go through a narrative or several narratives from the time we wake up until it’s time to sleep. Geez, even our dreams (or nightmares) are stories, too!

Stories are natural for humans. They’re central to our existence. Cultures worldwide have their own stories to share. In fact, we’re so enamored with stories, that we find stories even when there aren’t any!

Have you ever looked at the clouds on a clear, sunny day and thought you saw a unicorn (or some other figure) taking shape? Our brain is so hardwired to recognize patterns that we imagine seeing patterns when in reality they’re just puffy balls of mist. 

Why is this fact important and how can trainers and designers use this to their advantage?

In one study, scientists found that when someone tells a story, their brains and the brains of their listeners synchonize. When certain parts of the storyteller’s brain lights up, the same parts lit up in his/her listeners’ brains as well. This amazing phenomenon occurs because the brain can’t tell real experiences versus imagined ones.  As a result, the storyteller was able to let his/her listeners experience what he/she experienced. In short: “By simply telling a story, the woman could plant ideas, thoughts and emotions into the listeners’ brains,” according to Uri Hasson from Princeton University, one of the study authors.

Social psychologist Jennifer Aaker adds, this means stories should be able to take listeners where you want them to go.

Craft Your Signature Story

As trainers, we aim to see our learners take on the desired behavior. Stories should reinforce the lesson. Since stories are up to 22 times more memorable than facts alone, it’s a great tool to use especially when we want a lesson to stick to our learners’ minds even after the session is over.

Aaker suggests, trainers should develop their portfolio of signature stories. A signature story is “a story that after you tell it, people who listen to it somehow look at you differently.” Signature stories (1) shape how learners see you and (2) can be used as a tool of power and (3) persuasion.

When crafting your signature story, remember to ask yourself the following questions: 

  • Why are you telling the story in the first place? 
  • Why would the audience want to listen? 
  • Why would the audience care? 
  • Why would the audience want to share the story?


Stories are powerful tools to persuade people to change their perspective. Asking questions helps learners make inferences to make the story, integrate themselves into it, and as a result make the lesson more memorable.

As a trainer or designer, what is your signature story? What kind of stories are you known for or would like to be known for? Share your thoughts.


Tip #102: Cognitive Tunnelling: How to Achieve Focus Through Stories 

Fritz Heider and Marianne Simmel. An Experimental Study of Apparent Behavior. The American Journal of Psychology, Vol. 57, No. 2 (April 1944), pp.243-259

Greg J. Stephens, Lauren J. Silbert, and Uri Hasson. Speaker-Listener Neural Coupling Underlies Successful Communication. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 2010 Aug. 10; 107 (32)

Jennifer Aaker. Harnessing the Power of Stories. Stanford Graduate School of Business, 2013

Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Cognitive Tunnelling: How to Achieve Focus Through Stories - Tip #102

What happens in "failure of attention?"

A lot of things are getting automated these days and it’s no longer limited to factories and industries. Automation now also allows us to control our home’s air conditioning units, lights, and appliances. It’s a good thing for sure, especially for those who benefit from them the most like the elderly and the disabled. 

However, automation is a double-edged sword and over-reliance on it can lead to dire results. In worst-case scenarios, failure of attention can lead to death as was the case of Air France Flight 447 which crashed into the Atlantic Ocean in 2009. 

Cognitive Tunneling

When things are automated, our brains don’t have to monitor our environment. David Strayer, a cognitive psychologist at the University of Utah, likens this scenario to the dimming of a spotlight representative of the brain’s attention span. Strayer says this spotlight can go “wide and diffused, or tight and focused.” When an emergency strikes that spotlight goes fully bright all of a sudden and gets confused on where to focus so it shines on what’s directly in front of it.

For instance, when a plane on autopilot suddenly requires pilots to fly it manually, pilots need to abruptly switch their focus from a relatively relaxed state to that of panicked focus. Failure to transition from the former to the latter state results in cognitive tunneling, a “mental glitch” caused by automation.

Cognitive tunneling then is misplaced focus. But is there a way to fix this? How can we correct mental glitch? 

Mental Models and Stories

An example that’s often cited about how cognitive tunneling can be avoided is Qantas Flight 32. The flight experienced an uncontained engine failure—21 of its 22 aircraft systems were damaged. Despite this, all the crew and passengers arrived safely on the ground after an emergency landing at Singapore’s Changi Airport. It’s been called “the most damaged Airbus A380 ever to land safely.” 

It was a very serious incidence but one that was definitely handled very well. How did the pilot and crew do it? One thing: Before each flight, Captain Richard de Crespigny would brief the crew on possible problems and what to do. In other words, the captain was drilling mental models during each pre-flight session so that when an emergency situation does arise, all of them would be ready; each member of the team would know what to do. 

Whether we realize it or not, we tell ourselves stories all the time. These mental images provide our cerebral spotlights something to focus on, “always jumping around inside our heads.” As a result, these spotlights don’t dim. When we need to transition from relaxed to panicked states, we are not blinded by the glare, explains Charles Duhigg, a Pulitzer prize-winning reporter at the New York Times. 

Mental Models and Learning Design

Designers and trainers can take advantage of the principles of mental models in their workshops and courses by asking story questions. The best type of questions to ask are open-ended queries.

“What if this happened to me? What would I do?”

“How did it happen and why?”

Open-ended questions help learners to delve deeper into each story or event by placing themselves in it. These questions aid learners in creating mental images about the unfolding event and what would happen if they go with solution A or solution B and so on.

Revisiting mental models also advances learners’ experience since the brain doesn’t seem to differentiate between reality and imagination. Mental models have been helping agents of the U.S. Department of State create alternate realities to better handle real-life events.


Stories are very useful for more than just entertaining or sharing a lesson. They can also be used to help learners direct their focus on what matters most. By creating mental models, the brain’s focus doesn’t power off but instead transfers from one alternate reality to the next. Since the brain can’t tell imagination and real life apart, mental models help learners gather experience.


Jeff Wise. What Really Happened Aboard Air France 447. Popular Mechanics, Dec 6, 2011

Charles Duhigg. Computer Says: Stop Relying on the Computer. Wired Magazine, July/Aug 2016 issue

Charles Duhigg. The Power of Mental Models: How Flight 32 Avoided Disaster., March 16, 2016

Tip #42: Provoking Learners with Story Questions

Tip #99: Changing Behavior by Advancing Experience and Stories

Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"

Monday, August 1, 2016

Incorporating Play Into Learning Design - Tip #101

What thoughts run through your mind when you see the photo above? 

Some of us may shake our heads and say, “That guy’s too old to play.” Meanwhile, others may smile as a similar memory flashes through their mind’s eye.

Built to Play, Built Through Play

A belief among a number of adults appear to be about play being frivolous, something extra, an add-on or something that’s nice to do when we have the time.  Furthermore, play is viewed as just a childish inclination which shouldn’t be around anymore. They believe play is different from and shouldn’t mix with more serious matters like work and learning. However such perspective, which defines play as an activity, is really a misconception.

Play is natural especially to human beings who are the biggest players of all, according to psychiatrist Stuart Brown, M.D. It’s a biological process that evolved to help animals - including humans - survive. Brown, who has studied more than 6,000 “play histories” (case studies), concludes that “play is part of our evolutionary history.” He defines play as a state of mind rather than an activity and believes we have a “drive to play and we are built to play.”

Play is encouraged among children because of its role in helping them understand the world and develop motor and social skills, among others. As we entered adulthood, we may have been told to leave play behind but we don’t really lose the “need for novelty and pleasure as we grow up,” says Scott G. Eberle, Ph.D, vice president for play studies at The Strong and editor of the American Journal of Play.

“Nothing lights up the brain like play,” Brown once said in a TED Talk. Play shapes the brain and is important to our adaptability, intelligence, creativity, innovation, and social and problem-solving skills. This means learning and play are not separate; they can co-exist.

Applying Play to Learning Design

A little play goes a long way. Brown says play is really more of a catalyst which “lights up” our brain and results in increased productivity and happiness in everything we do. In applying play to learning design, there’s no need to overhaul our existing courses. Adding elements of play into our learning design should be enough to boost its fun factor. Here are a few suggestions. 

1. Interactive stories 
Interactive stories focus less on telling and more on letting the learners become part of the story. This is similar to solitary or solo play where learners can explore the story and engage with it on their own. 

2. Story questions
In relation to solo play and role-playing or simulation, asking questions allows learners’ minds to “shift gears” from facts (semantic memory) to episodes (episodic memory) to “My Story” (autobiographical memory). This process makes learning both desirable and relevant because now they’re personally involved - inserting their own experiences into the story.

3. Episodic Learning 
In the vein of telenovelas and reality series, Episodic Learning or Thematic Learning allows trainers to go in-depth and spur learners to reflect, and openly discuss and think about the possibilities resulting from one scenario.

4. Hands on project
In our Story-Based eLearning Design Online Workshop, participants get their “hands dirty” with their own mini projects. This is a great way to engage learners, make the workshop more fun and challenging, and is an avenue for discussion and feedback. For mini projects and other hands on projects to work, it’s important for participants to finish them. This will provide learners a sense of accomplishment, excitement, and satisfaction. 

5. Exploration bonus
Allow learners to explore. Provide activities and assignments that encourage them to learn on their own. Motivate them by giving an exploration bonus, which is a reward handed out to those who explore or try something new. The concept is common in the gaming industry but can also be found in the evolution theory. This can be useful in coaxing learners to step out of their comfort zones.

6. ‘Get Together’ for Discussion
After letting learners explore on their own, it’s important to bring them together as a group or into multiple groups to share ideas, be inspired by other participants, and build relationships. These social “get togethers” should be fun and of a community-building nature.

7. Team building
At its core, team building should be able to combine the strengths of each participant in such a way that it optimizes everyone’s learning. For instance, letting participants answer questions posted during a workshop allows them to share their responses which are molded by their own unique experiences and background. Their answers, in turn, add to the entire group’s shared knowledge.


There are various ways to incorporate play into learning design. At the root of all these is the belief that play and learning go hand in hand.

What other ways can trainers and designers apply play in learning? Let me know your comments.


Brown, Stuart. Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul. Avery, 2009

Kuschner, David. Book Review of Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul. American Journal of Play, Volume 2, Number 3. Winter 2010 

Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. The Importance of Play for Adults. PsychCentral. 2012/11/15

Brown, Stuart. Play is More than Fun., 2009

Barbakoff, Audrey. Learning Through Play in Adult Programs. RA News, August 2014

Tip #39 - Employing Story Structure and Dynamics to Engage Different Learners

Tip #28 - Create Memorable Story-based Test Questions

Tip #57 - Episodic Learning

Story-Based eLearning Design Online Workshop 

Tom Stafford (June 19, 2012). "Why are We Curious?". BBC

Ingrid Chalufour, Walter F. Drew, and Sandi Waite-Stupiansky. Learning to Play Again: A Constructivist Workshop for Adults. Beyond the Journal, Young Children on the Web, May 2003

Terhi Kouvo. Building Harmony Live & Learn - Stories of adult learning. 22.06.2016

Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Spur Learning Through 'Curiosity Conversations' - Tip #100

Have you seen the movies Apollo 13, Splash and A Beautiful Mind? How about the TV series Arrested Development, 24 and Empire? Do you know what ties them all together? What makes them all similar and somehow connected?
Source: OWN - Oprah Winfrey Network

All of them are credited to award-winning Hollywood producer Brian Grazer. But more importantly, these films and TV series were a result of Grazer's "curiosity conversations." 

'Curiosity Conversations' to Expand Learning

Grazer defines curiosity as the "process of asking questions, genuine questions, that are not leading to an ask for something in return." The goals of a "curiosity conversation" is to learn an insight or the secret to someone's process or success and expand each other's lives. 

"Curiosity conversations" are basically informal discussions that Grazer had and is still having with individuals outside of the entertainment industry and which became the inspiration behind his creations.

Tips to Integrating 'Curiosity Conversations' in eLearning

Asking questions is a manifestation of one's curiosity. But other than proving someone has a thirst for learning, curiosity, or more specifically the asking of questions, is the oil we need to keep us going. Humans have been called the "ultimate learning machines," and as with any machine, we need to be maintained to continue working efficiently.

How do trainers or designers trigger curiosity in learners? Here are some suggestions:

1. Ask story questions 
In story-based elearning, story questions are powerful tools that stimulate learners to connect or relate new learning to their existing storehouse of experiences and memories. Asking what, where, when, why, and how questions-queries that can't be answered by yes or no-grants learners permission to open up or share their insights.

2. Have curiosity conversations 
In line with asking story questions, elearning professionals can try using Grazer's "curiosity conversations" to dive deep into the minds of each other to spur the creation of new ideas or simply to gain insights and new learning.

3. Provide an "exploration bonus" 
Although everyone has a baseline curiosity and curiosity itself is an intrinsic motivation, it might take more than a little bit of courage for learners to give in to it because that would mean going outside of their comfort zone. However, trainers and designers can give learners a little push by taking a leaf out of the evolution theory and provide an "exploration bonus" to learners. Reward learners for trying something new.


Curiosity is a trait which is in all of us. It's important for trainers and designers to be able to trigger or stimulate learners' interest since curiosity makes learning easier and fun for them.


Tom Stafford (June 19, 2012). "Why are We Curious?". BBC

Grubber, Matthias, et al. (October 2014). States of Curiosity Modulate Hippocampus-Dependent Learning via the Dopaminergic Circuit. Neuron

Tip #15 - How to Add Curiosity in eLearning Stories

Tip #28 - Create Memorable Story-based Test Questions

Tip#42 - Provoking Learners with Story Questions

Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Changing Behavior by Advancing Experience and Stories - Tip #99

A client from the U.S. Department of State once told me:

I have never looked at learning this way. In many ways, I am guilty of focusing on the content to impart to learners and missing the crux of the change in behavior, the ultimate goal of learning and training.

Why does advancing experiences and telling their own stories help the agents behave as expected on the job?

Neural Pathways, Flight and Alternate Reality

The chart above shows an event and incident which presents an experience to the learners. Going through this experience and seeing the consequences help intensify and generate more experience.

Scientists tell us that even in imagined ways, our brains create neural pathways to record experiences even if we have not actually been through the event. From a psychological viewpoint, people are capable of flight. Only humans can travel in their minds. By doing so, they vividly see the alternate realities as shown in the consequences of their actions. We store the experiences in stories, and story questions retrieve and repeat the cycle.

Essentially, our brains are constantly advancing experience. This is how we adapt and survive. 

Story Questions as Enablers

Story questions act as enablers. The more we ask the questions the more we re-live and improve our stories and experience. Our experiences undergo a process of refinement.  Both our stories and experiences advance further.

Application in Learning Design

In the sequence of scenes below, the learner is drawn into the situation or incident. Story questions are asked. Pulling the learner into the story within the lesson helps advance the experience in multiple ways and assists the learner to mentally prepare in case the event or a similar situation occurs.

Some ideas for consideration
  1. Reflect on how you use advancing experience in your lesson design.
  2. Review your content and select an incident or event that can bring the learner into a story situation.
  3. Present the scenes of the event, incident or story.
  4. Question the leader's story questions to help them intensify the experience.
  5. Repeat the process a few times using different incidents relevant in real-life situations.

Change in behavior is one of the most important values for training people, not delivering content. Advancing the experience in the minds of the learners help them prepare to respond when faced with the actual situation.


Hassabis et al. (2007). Using Imagination to Understand the Neural Basis of Episodic Memory. The Journal of Neuroscience

Buckner RL (2010). The role of the hippocampus in prediction and imagination. Annual Review of Psychology

Tip#91 - 3 Story Sources for Deeper Learning

Tip#94 - How to Design Unobtrusive Test Questions

Tip#42 - Provoking Learners with Story Questions

Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"

Monday, June 13, 2016

Keep Learners Motivated Using Hyper-Stories - Tip #98

Click. Click. Click. Zzz.

Let’s face it. Having learners go through numerous slides or pages to learn important work-related information - in fact, any new information - is definitely one surefire way to bore your learners to death. 

When learners are bored, they learn little or nothing at all from the training. Boring e-learning de-motivates learners, making learning difficult. Motivation and curiosity are major factors that drive learners to continue, push through, or finish a course or program. Without any motivation, they drift off and refocus on something more interesting.

Cultivating learners’ curiosity when it comes to learning is very important. A study by Gruber et al. published in the journal Neuron found that people learn better when they are curious about what they’re learning.

Why You Have Bored Learners

Data does not come from thin air. It does not come from computers churning them out into great infographics. I once saw this placard from a science lab:

To understand why we have bored learners, it’s important to know what being “bored” means. According to psychological scientist John Eastwood and colleagues, boredom is “an aversive state of wanting, but being unable, to engage in satisfying activity.” Eastwood et al. describes a bored person as someone who has difficulty paying attention to internal information (e.g., thoughts or feelings) or external stimuli (e.i, the learning environment). They’re also aware of the fact that they have this difficulty and believe it’s the environment’s fault. 

In short, this means learners want to be engaged but for one thing reason or another,  just can’t. As trainers and designers, it’s our job to make sure we’re able to stimulate learners’ interest enough to keep their attention on the course or lesson. Sustaining learners’ interest is important. because It’s a major factor on how much they persist in learning tasks and ultimately their success. 

This also means boring content is therefore a loss-loss situation for everyone involved. It wastes resources (time, money, effort) of the learners, the designers, and the company or organization. and It provides no benefit to learners as well (minimal to no learning equals minimal to no application).

How Hyper-Stories Engage Learners

The ultimate goal when we’re designing or conducting trainings, workshops, or seminars is to have learners do a desired behavior, for instance to be able to appropriately handle an unlabeled drum. To achieve this result, we must keep our learners focused, engaged, and motivated throughout the training. The last thing we want are disengaged and zoned-out learners. 

To help learners go from minimum knowledge to having enough functional know-how about a certain topic in a short period of time means learners should have a way to quickly learn new information. This is possible with instant learning. It is the concept of teaching one idea to learners that results in one action or behavior they can apply right away. Instant learning works because it helps learners focus and keeps them motivated. One method that facilitates instant learning is the use of hyper-stories.

Hyper-stories are very short but very actual day-to-day events that allow learners to quickly connect the lesson to its application in real life. Hyper-stories compress the typical story arch and take learners from Crisis to Resolution very quickly.
The shortest distance between Crisis and Resolution

By using hyper-stories, trainers are providing learners with content that is evocative, provocative, and engaging. The use of a story that could potentially happen in real life breathes meaning to the information presented in the training. It helps learners clearly see when and how they can apply the lessons.


Hyper-stories create a win-win situation for both trainers and learners. Trainers use hyper-stories to keep learners engaged, motivated and focused. In the end, your learners walk away from the training with new learning they can immediately apply in their work. The distinct advantage of the approach is that learners stay glued, involved, totally focused and enjoyed the learning exchanges.


Elaine Biech. “ASTD Handbook for Workplace Learning Professionals.” American Society for Training and Development, 2008

Matthias J. Gruber et al. “States of Curiosity Modulate Hippocampus-Dependent Learning via the Dopaminergic Circuit.” Neuron, published online October 02, 2014; doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2014.08.060

Association for Psychological Science. “I’m Bored! - Research on Attention Sheds Light on the Unengaged Mind”. September 26, 2012

Kyong-Jee Kim. “Adult Learners’ Motivation in Self-Directed E-Learning”. August 2005

Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Engaging New and Young Learners

Have you ever wondered what a young learner’s first impressions are of the learning industry? Joining me this week is guest blogger and Vignettes Learning research associate Francesca Jimenez, discussing her first-time experiences and insights that connect to her experience as a young learner. I hope we all learn something from what she shares below.

As a new learner of elearning and a neophyte in the training industry, I have noticed a few salient points that connect to other broader, relatable experiences.

Know Your Audience

In a scene from the sitcom “How I Met Your Mother,” the main character, Ted, enters a large university lecture hall full of students. It is his first day as an architecture professor. He begins timidly but exuberantly warms up throughout the lecture. The camera cuts to confused faces in the audience and then to another figure walking down the lecture hall stairs chiming, “Sorry, I am late class. This is Economics 101.”

Like any lecturer or speaker, trainers and webinar moderators must know their audience. Poor Ted’s knowledge ultimately left himself lost and the students disinterested, not because the content wasn’t valuable but because it simply wasn’t presented to the correct audience. Although elearning and training webinars attract certain specialists, the industries and positions represented in one session can vary greatly.

Determine Between Must-Know Knowledge and Critical Incidents

The driver's education does not highlight what to do immediately after an accident or how to file an insurance claim. Until recently, I had never gotten into a motor accident. There were no irreversible damages, but what if there had been?

Within company training materials, must-know knowledge involving critical incidents should be presented first because they have the most immediate consequences, positive or negative. It seems common sense to first teach daily procedures. However these everyday skills and knowledge can be learned experientially and through routine.

Training courses are meant to provide the right skills to effectively solve problems and prevent damaging consequences to individuals or the company as a whole.


The traditional education system stifles creativity through rigidity and an expectation to only memorize and recall. This expectation begins at a young age. As illustrated by Lennon’s anecdote, the teacher’s role has become an enforcer of the expectation instead of a cultivator of alternative ones.

The creativity that was stifled throughout the education system is the same one that is called upon in job descriptions like “critical thinking and problem solving.” But memorization and a cultivation of specific skills do not have to be mutually exclusive from personal insights and creativity. The value of individuals' insights in learning environments is as important as their differences in learning styles. Insights are more than fact and opinion; they synthesize both content and narrative.

Francesca Jimenez is a recent college graduate who specialized in psychology and music. Her research interests include the application of behavioral sciences within industrial operations such as training, learning, and technology.


Employing Story Structure and Dynamics to Engage Different Learners

Stop That Dump Truck! Ask Questions to Know What is Important for Learners

Remove the Sting of Compliance Courses: Make Them Short, Succinct, Easy to Learn

Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Adding Provocative Stories to Really Boring eLearning

Do you find it arduous and very challenging to identify stories that produce engaging content?

Have you heard the saying, “the answer is just under your nose?" Believe me, stories abound.

Abundance of Facts, Scarcity of Stories

Factual and data content are easy to find. They are abundantly spoonfed to us by SMEs (subject matter experts) or expert technical teams.  We are never short of data. There is an abundance of these. Remember the slide decks that our SMEs provided us? (Phew!). Unfortunately, many designers and writers find it gruelling to pinpoint thought-provoking stories to accompany the data or factual content. They say “they are scarce.” Not at all! The answer is really right under our noses.

Where do data and fact originate?

Data does not come from thin air. It does not come from computers churning them out into great infographics. I once saw this placard from a science lab:

Most content, if not all, come from events in our lives - nature, laboratories, situations - in or from living things. So any form of data, information or statistics reflect what is happening or what we observed in our environments.

I also call these organic items.

One might also argue that content is the form while stories are their substance.
Taking a closer look at your factual or data content, you’d be pleasantly surprised to find stories which are built-in or inseparable elements of said content. Stories are native and innate in the content.

How to Extract the Stories

To extricate the stories, we need to use “extraction tools” or “refining tools.” The tools are called Story Questions.

From the data on hand, you may derive real-life events, situations, narratives, stories, characters, emotions, conflicts, resolutions, anecdotes - the elements of the story.

  • Statistical anomalies: “What’s the cause of the anomalies? What brought about the incidents? What is the impact, negatively or positively? How is the anomaly easily described?

  • Deviations from targets: “What drove the deviations? Who and how was this received? How are people adjusting the strategies or actions to address deviations?

  • Disconnect in assumptions: “What are the differences in assumptions and their origins? What are the sentiments and feelings about the differences? How are these likely resolved and what happens if they are unresolved?

  • Fatal flaws: “What is the accident or error? What are the consequences? What was missed or omitted? What costs or benefits were derived?

  • Exemplar results: “Why was this unexpected? How was this inspiring others? What was the contrasting, below-par results and what was the value realized? Who benefited?

Go Beyond the Numbers

I learned this thought from a Harvard professor:


Remove the Sting of Compliance Courses: Make Them Short, Succinct, Easy to Learn

Provoking Learners with Story Questions

Employing Story Structure and Dynamics to Engage Different Learners

Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"