Blog Posts

How Will the Animals Read? Watch Out for Communication Blind Spots

By Jean Storlie / May 1, 2014 /

One day, when my daughter was about 6 years old, my husband was helping her get ready for a Brownie Field Trip to the Humane Society. After signing the Permission Slip, he was ticking through the checklist of gear she needed, including old newspapers for animal bedding. I was upstairs on the landing supervising our…

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Don’t Rake in a Blizzard: Problem Solving through Social Networks

By Jean Storlie / March 3, 2014 /

One afternoon in early January, my daughters wanted to bake cookies and discovered that our cookie sheets were missing from the drawer where we store them. We searched high and low in all the spaces where cookie sheets could possibly fit. We wracked our brains and had many conversations about what could have happened to…

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Picture Perfect: Overcoming Innovation Pitfalls

By Jean Storlie / February 1, 2014 /

Back in the 70s, my parents received a coupon for a family portrait sitting and decided to herd the seven of us down to Ellickson’s, the local portrait studio. I remember being in college struggling to find something other than jeans to wear. Even though we weren’t given any guidelines, I showed up in a…

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Wallflower or Dancer? Three Common Barriers to Personal Storytelling

By Jean Storlie / December 10, 2013 /

During a networking breakfast, Maggie shared a story that had me transfixed: I vividly imagined her epiphany moment when she sat at her corporate desk in a large technology company at 8:30 one night and realized that she needed to leave her career in Information Technology. While searching internal job postings, she decided to roll…

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Secret Decoder Ring: Solving the Mystery of Social Tribes

By Jean Storlie / November 5, 2013 /

About a year after I joined General Mills in 1999, I was talking to a friend about how I still felt like an outsider. She said, “Jean, that’s because no one gave you the ‘secret decoder ring’ to help you understand the company’s culture.” At the time, I felt like she read my mind and…

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Watermelon Grudge: Your Customer is the Hero of Your Brand Story

By Jean Storlie / October 17, 2013 /

As a 50s housewife with three pre-school kids in La Crosse, Wisconsin, my mom, Lois, spotted an ad in the paper for 50¢ watermelons. When my dad got home for lunch, she rushed out with their only car to take advantage of this bargain. To her dismay, when she got to the store she found…

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Truth Wrapped in Story: Beware of the Evil Villain

By Jean Storlie / October 1, 2013 /

Truth, naked and cold, had been turned away from every home in the village. Her nakedness frightened people. When Parable found her she was huddled in a corner, shivering and hungry. Taking pity on her, Parable took her home, dressed Truth in story, warmed her and sent her out again. Clothed in story, Truth knocked…

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Are You a Duck or an Eagle?

By Jean Storlie / August 26, 2013 /

Emerging from the airport to stand in the cab line, Harvey was shaking the travel cobwebs from his brain and looked up to see a bright, shiny taxi. The cab driver jumped out and said, “Hi, I’m Wally. While I load your luggage, I invite you to read my mission statement.” Wally handed him a…

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He Who Beats His Horse: A Story-bite to Overcome Resistance

By Jean Storlie / July 31, 2013 /

My colleague, Annette Simmons, shared an insightful story:  A new supervisor, who had been promoted for her track record in delivering outstanding results, was getting resistance from her team for being over-controlling and harsh in her feedback. Her manager was receiving feedback from disgruntled team members — mutiny was brewing. In their next 1:1 update,…

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It’s Like a First Date: A Story-bite that Drives Focus

By Jean Storlie / July 24, 2013 /

In the process of changing to a new budgeting process, my client called a meeting to bring alignment between different factions in preparation for a presentation to the executive team. One team had created a budget proposal, while another team had been challenged to assess the proposed budget against strategic priorities and identify gaps. As…

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