Monday, February 15, 2010

Digital stories used in calling for action!

Feedback from the most recent participants show that the most effective use for digital stories is as a call for action.

The NZ dairy sector is one of the healthiest in the world - at the same time keeping this edge means acting on a number of issues, as outlined in the Strategy for New Zealand Dairy Farming, 2009-20.

From our 2010 Regional Workshops we learned that dairy women are interested in acting in the following areas:

Productivity and Education:  we need to ensure dairy people, from farm workers to managers and owners receive the best training available. 
    • Where do you see yourself active? 
    • Are you at your best mentoring one on one or in group activities? 
Human Resource: we need to attract and keep high quality people, especially new entrants. New entrants include young people as well as people that come from other sectors.
    •  What impact can you have, individually and as a group, on education and training? 
    • Which area would you like to make changes in? 
    • What would such change result in?  
Environmental issues: immediate concerns (environmental footprint of dairy farming, impact on land, water and air) and longer term concerns need addressing. Some dairy farmers are already working hard to mitigate impact but this is not always recognised.
    • What is your take on these issues? 
    • What have you already done in this domain? 
    • What do you intend doing in the future within your circles? 
    • What is your desired outcome for the actions you plan to take?
If you are interested in commitment to action in other areas than these, we want to hear from you! Let us know (

Digital story format
  • Introducing yourself
  • Introducing the topic/area you want to have impact in - and connect it to your past experience (for instance the lessons you have learned that you have listed in your preparation work)
  • Describe your vision for the change 
  • Call for action: who do you want onboard and what can be possible together?

Saturday, February 6, 2010


Living is about ongoing learning - some lessons are easier than others, some are clear and unforgettable, others are subtle, sporadic and harder to interpret. Leadership is about sharing your learning with others. More specifically, it is about sharing certain learning at certain times with certain people:

1. What learning? Your hard earned lessons!
You are the holders of leadership lessons for women in the NZ dairy industry! The fact that you are in this workshop, means you are recognised as leaders in the sector and that you have experienced parts of the pathway already - it is now time to share some of these lessons with women aspiring to leadership in the sector.

2. When? At times identified as needing action!
The Dairy Women’s Network Digital Storytelling Programme has been initiated because the Network has recognised there are few women leaders in the dairy sector. One of the causes is there are not enough women entering the leadership pipeline: we cannot wait any longer - action is needed right now.

3. Which people? The next generation of dairy women leaders!
The DWN Digital Storytelling Programme is piloted with you so that it can be rolled out to other leadership activities. The role of mentors like yourselves is to identify potential future leaders and spur them into action. Consequently, this workshop will provide you with some new tools to communicate your leadership messages to aspiring leaders, who will, in turn inspire others for this movement to grow from the grassroots.

This is what transformational leaders do: they inspire the right people at the right time for the right action. Most people, however, are not born storytellers! Digital storytelling offers a process, tools and time to help people articulate ideas and thoughts into compelling stories. The workshop will teach you this process: once you have created your first story, you will have mastered a practice that can be called upon at the next storytelling occasion.

Identify your story
A digital story does not purport to include all of life's lessons - on the contrary, a digital story focuses on one point - like the kernel that carries a seed into its future earth bed. Your first activity is to reflect on some of the lessons you have learned. Some may have occurred at turning points in your life, others may have been incremental. They combine to form a body of internal knowledge inside of you that is not always clearly articulated - reflection plays the role of bringing some of these stories to the fore.

Your story may be about specific obstacles in your leadership development identified and overcome, about identifying and achieving your goals, about how you realised what mattered enough to you that you wanted to make an impact, what inspired you into action, specific learning or teaching moments, specific mentors or role models and their message to you.

Think about the audience of women aspiring to leadership - or needing inspiration from you: in what way might your learning help them?

We suggest that you start with just one idea and develop a small story/script around it. Perhaps one or two pictures, newspaper article/illustration or piece of music come to mind - but if not, this will come later.

Elements to think about
Three ‘spark’ words from the description above (‘obstacles’, ‘achieving’ and ‘inspiration’) lead us to some specific techniques/questions that you might utilize, or ask yourselves about, in order to help craft your stories. The following questions can be used like a ‘self interview’, providing a framework to get you thinking about, and begin writing, your story.

The workshop facilitators are there, however, to help you along the way. Keep in mind that these are just suggestions; you may come up with a different ‘spark’ word that inspires you to write a different kind of leadership story. It’s all about the message you want to convey to present and future Network for Women in Dairying leaders!

1. ‘Obstacles’ (recovery stories)
a. What has been one of the greatest obstacles in your life?
b. How did facing this obstacle challenge you?
c. How did this make you feel?
d. How did you overcome this obstacle?
e. Who/what helped you overcome this obstacle?
f. What lessons about yourself do you draw from this experience?

2. ‘Achieving’ (accomplishment stories)
a. What was the event (time, place, incident, series of incidents)
b. What was your relationship to the event?
c. With which other people did you experience this event?
d. Was there a defining moment in the event?
e. How did you feel during this event (fear, exhilaration, sharpened awareness, joy)?
f. Whywhat did you learn from this event?
g. What did you learn from this event?h. How did this event change your life?

3. ‘Inspiration’ (‘what I do’ stories)
a. What is your profession or ongoing interest?
b. What experiences/interests/knowledge in your life prepared you for this activity?
c. Was there an event that most affected your decision to pursue the interest?
d. Who influenced or assisted you in shaping your career, interest, or skill in this area?
e. How has your profession or interest affected your life as a whole (family, friends, where you live)?
f. What has been the highlight of your vocational/personal life?

Most importantly, we will have great fun shaping our stories and pride in sharing them!

What pictures/prompts to collect towards the workshop day?
Bring to the workshop pictures, objects, prompts or any other item that can illustrate your story – bring more rather than less so you can select on the day.

Examples: pictures of your family, you on the farm, you before the farm (if you had a previous life!), newspaper clips (have you won a prize or been interviewed for any publication?), roles you may fulfil in the community (venture co-op, community volunteer…), photo of you in your home office

Angela Fullerton: A picture of me in a corporate suit (show ‘before’ and ‘after’ situations) to remind that I was not always in muddy gumboots would help people understand the breadth of my business experience… Bring a picture of a school, church, calf club or any other organisation that you work for or volunteer for! If you do not have pictures of you in it, then bring pictures of the events or picture that represent the event – your digital story will be enriched even by material that allude to the topic you talk about.

Linda McGinty: Being on the local school BOT is valuable experience… It is useful to have digital stories online for a group of women leaders so that people recommending them for leadership positions can send a URL with their story.

Robyn Clements: It is not until I viewed other digital stories with such curiosity that I realised how other people can be genuinely interested in my pictures too.

Christina Baldwin: We once showed a picture of Sue Van der Poel in her office and the audience felt the magic of being included in the life of a successful businesswoman – the personal touch of having her in the office made everyone feel they could learn these secrets!