Release the Stories!

There have been some awesome things coming from the Hub recently.  First, read the latest edition of Coefficiently to learn about home automation and how it could be used at Sibley one day.  Second, you can watch this video of a presentation by sound designer Yoko to see how the hospital may be the orchestra of the future.  Thirdly, you can read the blog below.  Fourthly, you can do all of the above!  

I think one of the best things about working in a hospital and in a healthcare is the continuous relationship with people's stories.  We are interacting with many people during some of the most stressful or joyful moments in their lives, which is a powerful ingredient for storytelling.

Stories are everywhere—to me, just the simple idea of a beginning, middle, and an end describing a series of events.  We listen to them on the news, follow them in movies, read them in books, hear them from others, and tell our own everyday.  Stories have a magical element to them, too.  We can be entranced by their sound, absorbed into their words, lost amidst their emotion and suspense, transported to their worlds, and taught by their lessons.

There is one added nuance, however.  Stories only become magical when they are shared.  Until we share them with others, our stories are simply our own reality and memories.  One of the stories we sometimes share in the Hub, that I think can illustrate this, is that of a secretary who, instead of using the “conference” feature on the main phone console, used to make conference calls by taking two phones and holding them upside-down and together so the two people could talk to one another.  This realization only occurred after the designers had asked the secretary to show them how he did it, because the secretary had confidently said that he knew how to facilitate conference calls—technically he did, I guess.  Hearing stories like this, however, were the motivators for creating phone interfaces that were more readily understandable. 

Think about that secretary’s story.  To you or me, it is enlightening, slightly shocking, a bit humorous, and clearly displaying a gap in understanding.  To that secretary, however, it was simply reality—nothing more than that.  It was just how he made a conference call.  Now, this as an example is nothing special, but expand this to the many experiences that exist out there.  How many inspiring and terrifying stories have you heard from patients, family members, friends, or the larger world that seemed matter-of-fact to them but impacted you?  Inspired you?  Possibly a story of a seemingly unfazed patient who happened to be stuck on the ground at the time of your follow-up call?  Or, someone's life long battle against chronic illness?  Maybe someone's act of heroism trying to save another person?  All of these are just reality to whomever they occurred to, but they are very different once they are shared.      

In the Hub, we are in the practice of collecting, sharing, and learning from stories.  They are our fuel, fire, and inspiration.   That’s why projects like the ‘About Me’, aspects of our Room of the Future project, etc. can be so powerful, yet so simple.   Building avenues for stories opens the door for the exchange of more than just words, because even a simple, short story can be moving.  However, there is a danger to listening to just one story (click here for a TedTalk with a much more eloquent description of why), which is why we need to collect a variety of stories.  For some topics, we already have enough experience to put a story in perspective, but—when we explore new areas with which we are unfamiliar—we need a diversity of stories before we can understand the impact of that single story. 

As a final thought, don’t let the ending of a story be the end.  The most powerful stories are those that leave us feeling motivated or wanting more—they leave us itching for a sequel or wanting action.  We begin to imagine what we want to see next, what is the happy or sad ending?  What can you do to influence what happens next?  The ending becomes the beginning, which means there is a whole new story that needs to be written.  Each and every day, we have the opportunity to help write that story and make the next story even better than the last.  


Andrew Yin

Hope that everyone has a chance to enjoy this great weather, what a treat in March!

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