Reinventing our leadership stories

Events in the U.S. and Canada are making me think about the upcoming Reinvention Summit Michael Margolis is masterminding. From November 11 to 22 over thirty storytelling visionaries will be gathering around the electronic fire, to share their insights and spark discussion.

The summit seems particularly timely to me since two major streams of reinvention stories have been kicked off in the last twenty-four hours. How these stories are crafted and played out will have significant impact in the coming months.

Before I went to bed on November 2nd, the U.S. Democrats and President Obama were already starting to create a new story. Having retained control of the Senate but lost the House, they were beginning to shape a story that could move beyond the heady optimism of the 2008 election without losing sight of the promised changes that swept them into office.

The Tea Party was already spinning stories that made their relatively poor showing sound like a major coup. And, of course, the Republicans were crowing about their takeover of the House and conveniently ignoring the Tea Party dissidents as they carved out a story about how they were going to put the brakes on every forward-thinking program that has managed to get past their heel-dragging in the past two years.

In Canada November 3rd started with another reinvention story in the making. The Premier of British Columbia, Gordon Campbell, suddenly announced he was resigning. He’s now in his third term, with an approval rating that has sunk to 9%. He dropped hints in his speech about how he’s going to edit the story of his years in the top spot in our province.

What was particularly interesting to me was listening to both his supporters and his opposition. The stories from his supporters were predictably laudatory but showed carefully crafted and shared briefing notes. By the third or fourth supporter, I knew almost word for word what they were going to say, thanks to the story editors in the Liberal Party inner sanctum.

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On the other hand, some of his opponents, taken by surprise at the Premier’s resignation, were telling stories that were polar opposites of the ones they’d been telling during the years of Campbell’s tight control and the months of anti-HST campaigning. (For those not in BC or Canada, we’ve recently been slapped with a Harmonized Sales Tax of 12%. Depending on which stories you believe, it’s either a heinous attack on our pocketbooks or a smart approach that will bring business to the province.) I was relieved when one opponent refused to gloss over the gutting of the civil service or the privatization of so many things that were delivered into corporate hands.

In both the U.S. and Canada, there’ll be a lot of story rewrites in the coming weeks. So this is a particularly good time to jump into the Reinvention Summit and engage in some vigorous discussion about the role of stories, why they are so powerful, and what it all means for us, as story-making creatures.

Registration starts as low as $11.11. You can tune in during the scheduled times or download the broadcasts for later listening. With so many thoughtful speakers lined up, the summit will have no trouble supporting the statement, “If you want to change the world, change your story.”

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