Thursday, 16 July 2015

Stories of Success at the Heart of the Project

Logo of SparkLondon
I just had a great call with the director of one of our newly confirmed collaborators, SparkLondon. Joanna Yates started out as a Occupational Psychologist, but now runs London's storytelling events organisation, as well as working directly with companies thinking about the stories they tell.

SparkLondon hosts two types of events at present - 'SparkLondon Open Mic' nights, where anyone can tell a story based on the theme of the night. The next events on on 'Adventures in Business Gaffes' (30th July) and 'Glory' (10th August). They also host 'SparkLondon Stories' which are specially produced events with story-tellers from particular groups. The next event, produced in collaboration with Open University, focuses on the stories of sex workers.

Every event is recorded and turned into a podcast. Their podcast now has 30,000 listeners. You can listen to them here.

Speaking to Joanna was fanstastic - she completely understood the complexity of the theme 'success' and had many personal and professional insights into the idea of 'success against the odds', or in 'times of adversity'. She's passionate about learning from what works and uses storytelling to help companies negotiate periods of change. For this reason, I think she'll make a great contribution to the work of collaborator Dr Leah Tomkins on organisational success and our thinking about interpersonal and systems successes.

Joanna is going away to discuss our conversation with her team and come up with some more refined ideas for events and workshops that we can interweave into our residency. She's also going to look at some costings. We'll meet again later this month at one of their events, and Joanna is hoping to come to the collaborators' event on 18th September.

I'm feeling very inspired and am coming to find that stories are at the centre of the research I want to do as well. As a phenomenological psychologist stories hold a tenuous place, but in my PhD I incorporated narrative because I see it as such a pervasive part of being human. I think the stories that we tell as individuals, couples and families, especially at times of adversity, are part of what holds us together (anchors us), and helps us be successful. I am really excited about the prospect of moving forward with these research ideas!

Next meeting is with performance poet, Luke Wright...

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