<span class="dojodigital_toggle_title">ABT Framework Student Resource Page Round 24</span>

ABT Framework Student Resource Page Round 24

Contents

Working Circles

Course Dates & Time

Sign up to host your Working Circle here (separate page)

Sign up to participate in Working Circles (separate page)

Before the first class

Session 1 Resources –  Intro

Session 2 Resources – Outer Circle

Session 3 Resources – Singular Narrative

Session 4 Resources – Hero’s Journey

Session 5 Resources – Classical Design

Session 6 Resources – Business with Park Howell

Session 7 Resources – Listening with Brian Palermo

Session 8 Resources – Proposals with Dianna Padilla

Session 9 Resources – Law with Doug Passon

Session 10 Resources – Narrative Spiral with Nancy Knowlton

ABT Framework Google Group

Social Media – Keep up with us on the web

Additional Resources


Working Circles 

Synopsis on Working Circles – If you’re new to Working Circles, start by reading this.

Working Circle Half Hour Schedule – Use this to guide you through how to host your half hour Working Circle.

To complete the class, you must sign up to host 1 Working Circle and sign up to participate in 2 Working Circles.

Sign up to host a Working Circle

  • Pick an available half hour time slot on this page.
  • Fill in your first name, last name, and a short title for your Working Circle based on your ABT.

Host responsibilities

  • Email your participants your ABT before the Working Circle so they have time to review it – we’ll send you the list of your participants’ email addresses 3-5 days ahead of time. 
  • You can send your participants a revised ABT of what you originally submitted to class or use a brand new ABT all together.
  • During the Working Circle, use the ABT Blue Card and follow the half hour schedule.
  • You’re the moderator of the discussion, so do your best to make sure everyone gets a chance to speak and provide input.  
  • We’ll send you and your participants a Webex link for your Working Circle 3-5 days before you’re scheduled to host, so no need to worry about that.

Participant responsibilities

  • Sign up to participate in a minimum of 2 Working Circles.  Sign up here.
  • Review the ABT that the host sent you ahead of time and come up with your version of the 5 Word Problem (this will be discussed in class) for the host’s ABT before the Working Circle starts.
  • (Optional)  Participants can rewrite the host’s ABT and present the rewritten ABT to the host during the Working Circle.  This approach is for participants who want a little extra practice and to give the host more options and ideas for rewriting their ABT.  So far we’ve had reports back that hosts are incredibly grateful when participants do this.
  • Be prepared to use the ABT Blue Card and all the tools you’ve learned in class to help the host clarify their narrative.

Course Dates & Time 

Time:  Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 4:00 PM CET (Zurich time)

March 4, 7, 9, 11, 14, 16, 18, 21, 23, 25


Before the first class 

Sign up to host a Working Circle (see above)

Download the ABT Blue Card – Have it open or printed out and ready for each class.


Session 1 Resources – Intro

If you had an ABT Build session and want to get your notes from the chat, then you can download the previous chat log here.  

Randy’s seminar with Scripps Research, “The Biomedical Maelstrom:  Narrative Mechanics of Failed COVID Communication from CDD and Elsewhere”:

Risk Communication on Climate:  Mental Models and Mass Balance – The IPCC Report on climate change is supposed to be simple enough for policy makers to interpret it, but it’s so complicated that even MIT grads with STEM backgrounds can’t decipher it.

Medical Obfuscation: Structure and Function  – Michael Crichton’s paper on how medical communication does NOT have to be as complicated as it is.

UN climate reports are increasingly unreadable – A Nature article on how UN climate reports fail the Flesch Reading Ease test.

Hegelian dialectic – The 3 forces of narrative, Agreement, Contradiction, and Consequence, aren’t a new idea.  You can find the roots back in the 1600s with Thesis, Antithesis, and Synthesis.

‘Historic Botched Job’: The Narrative Mechanics of Failed COVID Communication From CDC and Elsewhere – A recent Medscape podcast that Randy was on discussing the failures of COVID communication.  

Three Forms of the ABT – It’s recommended you read this excerpt from Houston, We Have a Narrative and get an understanding of the cABT (Conversational ABT).

Optional Exercise #1: The 5 Word Problem

“What’s the problem?” is the most common question Randy asks during the ABT Builds. For this exercise, try to finish this sentence “The problem is _____” and use only 5 additional words.

Examples: The problem is bad resource management.

The problem is the old method doesn’t work.

The problem is we have bad data.

Stripping down your problem to just 5 words can help you clarify what your narrative is actually all about and focus in on the real problem that you want to address.


Session 2 Resources – Outer Circle

Chat Log

The AAAS ABT Framework Video:

Uri Hasson’s Paper on Neurocinematics – For a look at how narrative and non-narrative effects the brain. This paper was referenced in the AAAS video.

Week 1 Working Circles are available.  Sign up to participate here.

Optional Exercise #2 – “This is a story of…” – Processes – Ultimate & Proximate

This is another exercise that would be handy to have done before your in class ABT Build with Randy because Randy asks this question for roughly 99% of ABT Builds.

For this exercise, tell us what your ABT is about by finishing this sentence and using only 3 additional words “This is a story of____.”

It seems simple, but this exercise is tricky because participants tend to focus on the subject. But stories need more than a subject, they need action.  Processes are where you find that action. Common processes for ABTs could include adapting, managing, protecting, restoring, strategizing, educating.

Examples:

  • Protecting a species
  • Strategizing building restoration
  • Managing conservation efforts
  • Restoring wildlife
  • Adapting to change
  • Educating our stakeholders

Look at this example ABT:

Congressional funding is a key requirement for the continuation of important aviation research, and we know that our research allows us to be better able to manage our wildlife habitats and protect endangered species. But program managers don’t feel confident about securing future funding because some research areas are not receiving enough attention. Therefore, we need to effectively promote the proven success in these research areas to secure future funding.

When asked to complete the sentence “This is a story of____,” a possibility is “This is a story of aviation research.” But this is just the subject and it doesn’t tell us what action is taking place in this story.

Instead of the subject (aviation research), focus on the process. If you wanted the process for the broader story, the Ultimate Goal, then the process might be “secure,” since ultimately the purpose is to secure the future funds. “This is a story of securing future funding.”

“Securing future funding” is the Ultimate Goal, but you can take it down to a narrower level by focusing on the specific process, the Proximate Goal, you want to go through to get that future funding:  “This is a story of promoting our successes.” 

Ultimate Goal:  Securing future funding.
Proximate Goal:  Promoting our successes.

Fulfilling the Proximate Goal will lead us to succeeding at the Ultimate Goal.

Try to fill in “This is a story of____” for your ABT using only 3 additional words (focusing on the process) or less.  Do one version for the Ultimate Goal and one version for the Proximate Goal.

 


Session 3 Resources – Singular Narrative

Chat Log

The One Thing:

Nicholas Kristof’s Advice for Saving the World  –  The importance of the singular narrative.  Once you increase the size of a narrative from one person in need to two people in need, compassion drops in the audience.

Compassion Fade: Affect and Charity Are Greatest for a Single Child in Need – The research article that “Advice for Saving the World” references.

‘Data-Driven’ Campaigns Are Killing the Democratic Party  – The article in which Dave Gold coined the term “Christmas Tree” when looking for an overarching problem.  It’s okay to have several problems in your narrative, but you need to find the overarching Christmas Tree problem for your narrative that all the other problems can hang off of like ornaments.

Former White House COVID Advisor: We Can All Safely Experience Joy This Holiday Season Andy Slavitt episode of Medscape podcast where he and the host, Eric Topol, graded science communication during COVID as an F.

Optional Exercise #3: cABT – Starting from simplicity

Randy might ask you the cABT version of your ABT, so for this exercise you’ll prepare your cABT ahead of time.

The cABT should have all specifics stripped off of it. Use nothing but generic words, like “thing” and “stuff.” For example, if your ABT dealt with a new way to clean junk from the ocean that’s an improvement and the old system is outdated, the cABT would be “We had a thing we were using for a while, but it’s not working that great, so now we want to use a better thing.”

See? We can’t tell that you’re working on cleaning the environment. You could just as well be telling me that you’re implementing a new accounting system at your bank for all we know. That makes it a good cABT.

This exercise is important in making sure you have an easily understood base narrative, that you really know what the narrative core of your ABT is all about.  And then from the base cABT, you can start adding specifics again when constructing your kABT.

 


Session 4 Resources – Hero’s Journey

Chat Log

Matthew Winkler Video: What makes a hero? – We only watched the first two minutes in class.  Watch this to the end to see how the hero’s journey applies to your life:

Oprah’s Golden Globes Speech – A great example of using Nested ABTs.  Color coded in the ABT format.

Optional Exercise #4: Using the Dobzhansky Template to find your “One Thing.”

Restructure your ABT in the form of a Dobzhansky Template to help you find your singular narrative.  This is an excellent tool to use during Step 1 of the ABT Blue Card.  

Dobzhansky Template: Nothing in _______ makes sense, except in the light of ________.

Examples: Nothing in biology makes sense, except in the light of evolution.

Nothing in geology makes sense, except in the light of plate tectonics.

Nothing in the management of mule deer makes sense except in the light of correctly estimating abundance.

Nothing in the challenge of teaching human anatomy makes sense except in the light of time management.


Session 5 Resources – Classical Design

Chat Log

Classical Design:

Randy’s recent presentation for Scripps on the failure of Covid communication:

Story by Robert McKee – For those of you who want to do a deep dive into the history and structure of story, this is the book for you.

Optional Exercise #5 : IF/THEN – The tool of HOPE and FEAR

The IF/THEN tool is incredibly powerful at helping to set the stakes and getting very specific. You can use it in the Blue section and it can be a tool for Hope, showing what Heaven could look like it all goes according to plan. Or you can use it for Fear in the Red section, showing how bad Hell can be if everything falls apart.

But what should your IF/THEN be about? To answer that, go back to the optional exercise “This is a story of…” – Processes – Ultimate & Proximate ‘‘ and find your Ultimate and Proximate goals.

Let’s look at the example we used.

Congressional funding is a key requirement for the continuation of important aviation research, and we know that our research allows us to be better able to manage our wildlife habitats and protect endangered species. But program managers don’t feel confident about securing future funding because some research areas are not receiving enough attention. Therefore, we need to effectively promote the proven success in these research areas to secure future funding.

For the example ABT, the goals where:
Ultimate: A story of securing future funding
Proximate: A story of promoting our success.

Now that you have the goals, try crafting them into IF/THEN statements, both positive and negative, and see if you find any variation that has some power.  If it helps, you can put them into the form of questions like the ones below for you to answer:

  • If you can secure future funding, then what happens? (Hope)
  • If you do a good job at promoting our successes, then what happens? (Hope)
  • If you can’t secure future funding, then what happens? (Fear)
  • If you fail to promote our successes, then what happens? (Fear)

Try asking questions like this for your own ABT’s Ultimate and Proximate Goals and see if you can properly set the stakes using the tool of Hope or Fear.


Session 6 Resources – Business with Park Howell

Chat Log

Park Howell’s Business of Storytelling Podcast – Randy has been featured on a number of Park’s podcasts.  Here’s the most recent episode with Randy.

Brand Bewitchery: How to Wield the Story Cycle System to Craft Spellbinding Stories for Your Brand – Park Howell’s book on using the ABT and the Hero’s Journey to help market your brand.

The Narrative Gym for Business: Introducing the ABT Framework for Business Communication and Messaging – The business version of the Narrative Gym, written by Park and Randy.

Optional Exercise #6: Past, Present, & Future

There’s a few different variations of the kABT.  We’ll be looking at one of them here, the Past-Present-Future ABT.

The Past-Present-Future format isn’t applicable to all topics, but we can experiment and see if it is with yours. For your project, craft the AND in a way to tell the audience what was going on before in your project or your old method for addressing a problem. For the BUT, tell the audience the current problem with the old method of doing things. For the THEREFORE, let us know the solution that you’ll be attempting to implement in the future.

The cABT for a Past-Present-Future ABT might look like: “We were doing this one method for the longest time AND it worked well enough, BUT a new issue came up, THEREFORE now we have to fix it by doing a new thing.”

You could also attempt an IF/THEN in a Past-Present-Future ABT, for example: “We were doing this one method for the longest time AND it worked well enough, BUT a new issue came up and IF we don’t fix it THEN it’s going to get really bad, THEREFORE now we have to fix it by doing a new thing.”

Try filling in the details with your own project and make your own kABT using the Past-Present-Future ABT format.

Or fill in the details with facts about your life to make a Past-Present-Future ABT for introducing yourself at parties or networking events: “I was doing this one thing, BUT then a big issue came up, THEREFORE now I’m focusing on this other thing.”

And you can break out the Past-Present-Future ABT if you’re ever put on the spot by your employer with a question on where you’re at with a project at work.  cABT:  “Well boss, we got all this stuff done and it’s working great, but now we’ve got a new problem, so we’ll be doing a bunch of steps to fix it.”  Fill in the details to that cABT on the fly and your boss should be up to speed on what you’re up to.


Session 7 Resources – Listening with Brian Palermo

Chat Log

Audience focused communication requires listening:

Kurt Vonnegut on the Shapes of Stories:

Brian Palermo’s Resources – Brian offers a number of resource videos on his website, some with interactive exercises built in.  Topics include listening, utilizing emotional intelligence, and audience focused communication.  He also offers online improv training to help improve listening and communication skills.

Don’t Be Such a Scientist, Second Edition: Talking Substance in an Age of Style – In this second edition of Randy’s book, Randy added a brand new chapter:  “Don’t Be Such a Poor Listener.”

Rather Than Arming Our Differences, We Need To Embrace Them—and Simply Be NICE – An article on how shared values and first principles can help us bridge divides between different groups.  And for the purposes of our course, where do you bridge that divide?  The blue section.

Optional Exercise #7: Expected Vs Observed – Leading us to the ideal world

Time to look at a different version of the kABT, the Expected Vs Observed ABT.

The Expected Vs Observed ABT isn’t applicable to all topics, but we can experiment and see if it is with yours. For your project, paint a perfect world in the AND in which everything goes right, what you would Expect from your “ideal world.”  Aim for Heaven!

Unlike the Past-Present-Future ABT, this time you’re starting the AND out in the ideal, perfect future, not the past.  A positive IF/THEN in the AND is often helpful here in really driving home what the stakes are if all goes according to plan. 

Then for the BUT, tell us the problem that you’re Observing which is interfering with this perfect world you envisioned in the AND.  Aim for Hell!

Finally, for the THEREFORE, tell us how you’ll lead us out of the problem of the BUT and back to the ideal world of the AND.

(This is often a great ABT for people who work on climate change projects.  Climate change has been such an ongoing problem that it’s a part of our past now, so instead of looking at the climate change ridden past, you’re looking at the ideal future where you’re actively solving the problems of climate change in the AND).

A typical Expected Vs Observed cABT: “We’ve got this great project AND IF everything goes to plan THEN we’ll get all kinds of great benefits BUT right now it’s not working because of a problem THEREFORE we need to fix it by doing some stuff.”

Try filling in the details with your own project and make your own kABT using the Expected Vs Observed ABT format.


Session 8 Resources – Proposals with Dianna Padilla

Chat Log

Advice on how women should pitch the “BUT”A reply by Dianna to a former student’s question about the bias against women when they use the same strategies as men.

Are You Confused by Scientific Jargon?  So Are Scientists – A New York Times article recommended by Dianna about how jargon clogs up scientific papers to the point that other scientists can’t understand them.  Remember:  your Inner Circle is always smaller than you think it is.

Chaos in the brickyard – A famous Science Magazine letter on scientists and their obsessions.

Optional Exercise #8: We Know This – The proof is in the past

Time for another form of the kABT, the We Know This ABT. Once again, a We Know This ABT isn’t right for every topic, but you can try and see if it is with yours.

A We Know This ABT (or as Randy likes to refer to it as, a Wenowdis ABT) is similar to a Past-Present-Future ABT, but this time instead of using the AND to look back at an old method that no longer works, we’re going to the past to look at a method We Know that works.

Set the AND at a place where you’ve seen past ideal circumstances that are similar to our current circumstances. We’re reaching back to the past for proof that we’re on the correct track, for evidence that this plan is the correct one.

The BUT typically involves what’s preventing you from using this great plan that’s always worked before.

The THEREFORE is your fix to get you back on track to your perfect tired-and-true plan.

cABT: “WE KNOW this process is important and IF we do it THEN we’ve seen great benefits BUT we can’t use it right now because of a problem THEREFORE we need to fix the problem by doing some things.”

Alternate cABT:  “There’s a thing that’s important and WE KNOW IF we use this process on it THEN we’ve seen great benefits BUT we can’t use it right now because of a problem THEREFORE we need to fix the problem by doing some things.”

Fill in the details and see if you can make a We Know This ABT from your topic.


Session 9 Resources – Law with Doug Passon

Chat Log

The Narrative Gym for Law – Doug and Randy’s Law version of the Narrative Gym book.  

Optional Exercise #9: Headline statements – BUT/BECAUSE & THEREFORE/BY

Step 3 of the ABT Blue card talks about the WHAT and the HOW for your problem in the BUT, but what does that mean exactly?

Let’s look at this example ABT:

Our storage facility cares for over 200,000 sensitive computer parts that are vital to our company’s sales, BUT poor storage conditions with inadequate temperature, moisture and insect control are allowing deterioration of this hardware, THEREFORE we need to fund construction of a new building to halt degradation before our inventory is lost.

In the BUT for this problem we have a WHAT and a HOW.

WHAT is the problem: deterioration of this hardware
HOW is it happening: poor storage conditions with inadequate temperature, moisture and insect control.

Notice in the ABT that the HOW comes first. This is a common problem with Inner Circle people (especially scientists) who try to “build their case” first and then arrive at the conclusion (the WHAT) at the end. That works for communication with the Inner Circle, but Outer Circle people will have a hard time following you because they don’t know where you’re going with a chain of logic.  They need to get a frame of reference at the beginning – for much the same reason that newspaper articles have headlines.

Think of the WHAT, “deterioration of this hardware,” as the Headline Statement, the big statement of the problem that’s meant to get the audience’s attention.

To check and see if you have your Headline Statement in the correct place, try structuring your RED material as: BUT (Headline Statement) BECAUSE (give details).

BUT our hardware is deteriorating BECAUSE of poor storage conditions with inadequate temperature, moisture and insect control.

You can do the same thing in the the green material with THEREFORE (Headline Statement) BY (give details).

THEREFORE we need to halt the degradation BY funding construction of a new building.

Putting your Headline statement first is very important for helping your Outer Circle follow along with what you’re saying.

For this exercise, look at your own ABT and see if your Headline is in the correct place at the beginning of the BUT and THEREFORE. If it isn’t, try putting it in the beginning and see if it helps.

 


Session 10 Resources – Narrative Spiral with Nancy Knowlton

Chat Log

The ABT Tools Cheat Sheet – A summary of all the tools we’ve went over for the class.

The Narrative Spiral:

Individuals with greater science literacy and education have more polarized beliefs on controversial science topics – The paper Nancy referenced that shows how science literacy and political affiliation effect belief in controversial topics.  Despite what scientists would like to believe, more information isn’t always the right answer.

Citizens of the Sea: Wondrous Creatures From the Census of Marine Life – Nancy Knowlton’s book.

Earth Optimism – A movement that Nancy is heavily involved in to help highlight the upward rise of the climate movement’s narrative spiral.

Katharine Hayhoe – The Evangelical Christian and Climate Scientist who emphasizes shared values when teaching about climate change.


The ABT Framework Google Group

We have an ABT Framework Google Group set up for all the current students and alumni of the Course. If you join, you’ll be able to create and submit new Working Circles for brand new ABTs for projects that you’re working on to get ABT feedback from others who have trained in this method. And you can participate in new Working Circles from future classes and alumni submissions to help hone your ABT skills.

Also, as graduates of the class, you’re free to come back and audit the entire course for free as often as you like.  We post future classes that you can audit to the Google Groups.

To sign up for the ABT Framework Google Group, you can email Matthew (mattmdavid@gmail.com) a Google account email address (i.e. @gmail.com) to be able to visit the page directly. Or you can send him a non-Google address and still participate by receiving email updates from the Google Group whenever new Working Circles are posted.


Social Media

Science Needs Story – Randy Olson’s Blog.

@ABTAgenda – Follow Randy on Twitter.

ABT Time Podcast – All things ABT, start to finish.  In this weekly hour long post Randy will discuss observations, applications and implications of this powerful tool that is at the core of his narrative training program and effective communication of all forms.  

ABT Framework Course & Story Circles Grads – A private Facebook group just for graduates of the course where you can post about any ABT related topic you find around the ‘net.  Once you request access, we’ll let you in.

Story Circles & ABT Training – An open-to-all Facebook Fan page.

The ABT Agenda Newsletter – We send out a newsletter a few times a year with new ABT related events, news, and course updates.  If you sign up, we promise not to spam you with tons of junk!

 


Additional Resources

“They Say / I Say” – A book on arguing in an ABT-like style.