THE START OF this month sees the ONTENTE fellowship take a first step on the year’s journey. The new road underfoot seems quite a different challenge, as we tentatively feel our way across several obstacles: the UK Lottery’s Community Fund is allowing us to build capacity — developing our alumni as tutors, and extending participation to people on low incomes; ILM recognition of our learning modules brings additional value to participants and clients. These two systems each bring their own set of rules. They seek to bring a higher quality and therefore generate more work and complexity.
Yet, what makes this stage of the adventure potentially more scary, is the participation of our clients. Much as we enjoy the challenge of working with them, and value these organisations’ shared commitment to story for a better world, collaborating closely with individuals as participants shifts the relationship onto a personal level. We might say this makes our commercial relationship more human — which is great, as it’s this side of business that we are striving to discover and document. The effect is that it’s forcing us to adopt a new kind of openness — allowing the client to witness our story first hand, with all of our flaws.
This is the kind of vulnerability that the science of psychology points to as crucial for unlocking innovation. Learning in the open feels like a high-stakes activity — and that’s exactly what’s required for a good story.