ABT Framework Student Resource Page Round 39 – GH Labs

ABT Framework Student Resource Page Round 39 – GH Labs

Contents

Working Circles

Course Dates & Time

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

Sign up to participate in Working Circles here (separate page)

Before the first class

Session 1 Resources –  Intro

Session 2 Resources – Outer Circle

Session 3 Resources – Singular Narrative

Session 4 Resources – Bankspeak and And Frequency

Session 5 Resources – Proposals with Dianna Padilla

Session 6 Resources – Hero’s Journey & Nancy Knowlton

Session 7 Resources – Listening with Brian Palermo


Working Circles 

If you’re new to Working Circles, start by watching this:

Synopsis on Working Circles

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 Zoom 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.
  • One participant should volunteer to be the notetaking Scribe.  The Scribe will share their screen so that everyone can view it and have a Word document up to take notes.  You can find a premade Scribe document in Word here.
  • (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 and Times 

In-Person Sessions:

  • Tuesday, June 18th @ 10:30 am PT in Archimedes
  • Tuesday, July 9th @ 11:00 am PT in Archimedes

 Virtual Sessions Going Forward:

  • Thursday, July 11th @ 10:00 am – 11:00 am PT
  • Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11:00am – 12:00pm PT
    • June 20th, 25th, 27th
    • July 16th, 18th, 23rd, 25th

No classes on the first week of July.


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

How to Create a Powerful 90 Second Project Summary Using the ABT Framework

Download the ABT Blue Card – This is our 3 step model for revising an ABT to make it more effective.

Optional Exercise #1 – “This is a story of…” – Change

This is an 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 change. Look at your ABT and see what major change you want to occur.  Your story starts at point A and ends at point B – what’s the change that you want to get us to point B?

Examples of changes in past ABTs:

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

Look at this example ABT:

Congressional funding is a key requirement for the continuation of important avian 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 avian research.” But this is just the subject and it doesn’t tell us what change is taking place in this story.

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

Point A of the story:  We are not securing future funding.

Point B of the story:  We are securing future funding.

Try to fill in “This is a story of____” for your ABT using only 3 additional words (focusing on the change) or less.


Session 2 Resources –  Outer Circle

Optional Exercise #2: The 5 Word Problem

“What’s the problem?” is the second most common question Randy asks during the ABT Builds. For this exercise, look at your ABT and 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 3 Resources – Singular Narrative

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.

Off With the Talking Heads: A Plea for One COVID Voice – Randy’s Medpage article where he talks about the importance of the singular narrative.

Optional Exercise #3: 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 4 Resources – Bankspeak and And Frequency

Bankspeak: The Language of World Bank Reports, 1946–2012 – The Literary Lab report on how the World Bank reports are completely unreadable, due in no small part to the overuse of the word “and” to glue together contradicting statements.

A spat over language erupts at the World Bank – The somewhat dismissive Economist article on the “conjunction dysfunction” about the Literary Lab’s report.

The Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English is a 7 year foundational study that took a quantitative analysis approach to the English language.  It found that the ideal percentage of Ands in well edited documents tend to converge around 2.6%. You can use this word frequency tool to find the number of Ands in your own document, then divide that by the total number of words to find your And Frequency. We consider an And Frequency of over 4% to be indicative of “deadly levels of boring.” The closer to 2.6% you are, the better.

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 #4 : 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 – Change ‘‘ and find the changes that are taking place in your narrative.

Let’s look at the example we used.

Congressional funding is a key requirement for the continuation of important avian 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 changes were:
Broader change: A story of securing future funding
Specific change: A story of promoting our success.

Now that you have the changes, 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 changes and see if you can properly set the stakes using the tool of Hope or Fear.


Session 5 Resources – Proposals with Dianna Padilla

DNA (Dream, Nightmare, Action) and the 4 Moments

How to Make Your Stories Stronger by Calculating Your “But-to-And” Ratio – Randy’s latest guest appearance on the Business of Story podcast where he talks with the host about the Narrative Index.

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, their obsessions, and squandered effort.

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 #5: 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 6 Resources – Hero’s Journey & Nancy Knowlton

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:

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 affect 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.

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

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

Audience focused communication requires listening:

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.

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

$71 Million of Disappointment – Randy’s podcast series on how politicians in North Dakota and Australia didn’t listen to their audiences to understand what was important to them on issues of conservation and Aboriginal rights.

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.


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.

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!


ABT Booklist

Communication Books by Randy Olson

They Say, I Say by Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein – A book for an ABT like approach to argumentation.

Step by Step to Stand-up Comedy by Greg Dean – A book that takes a structured approach to joke writing with a focus on the AND and the BUT (i.e., Setup and Punchline).  

The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler – If you every wanted an in depth look at storytelling, THIS is the book. Draws heavily from Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey and is based on Vogler’s 7 page memo that reshaped Hollywood.