Story Cubes
30 November 2018
Michael Eppelmann

Storytelling as an Agile Method

Working agile means to act with an open mind – but thinking outside of the box is not always easy in a fast-moving, increasingly complex present. In our new “Agile Methods” series, we want to introduce several approaches that Boehringer Ingelheim employees have been using to leverage new insights and foster innovation.

In our second “Agile Methods” article we want to present another tool Patricia Gómez has been using frequently in workshops: Story Cubes! Our Organizational Development and Learning Manager in Mexico City surprised us with the simplicity of this method – and reminded us how powerful storytelling can be.

Patricia, what is the core principle of Story Cubes?

One participant after the other receives nine cubes with altogether 54 images. From these nine cubes you choose round about six: The number depends on the time and objective. Then you throw the cubes, put them in chronological order and tell a story based on the images you threw. There is also a Story Cubes app to do this.


For what purpose have you been using Story Cubes in your workshops so far?

It is a great icebreaker tool! The workshop participants get a chance to introduce each other in an innovative way. They have to tell their own story in a completely different way than ever before, just based on pictograms. Imagine introducing yourself based on pictures of a sheep, a speech bubble, a pyramid and a question mark! Not only will the other participants get to know you as a person, but you will have a totally new look at yourself, too.


Are there other possible uses of the tool in the workshop context?

Using Story Cubes can also be rewarding to improve the communication among colleagues and to think about strategic development. The workshop facilitator may for example ask: What do you need to achieve your goals as a team over the next 12 months? Not only will the cubes be arranged in a chronological order to tell a story: The participants need to think up concrete steps to reach their goals and connect them logically. This can be quite eye-opening and foster innovation.


Do you have a concrete example in mind where this worked out well?

Yes! Our Vice President of Production and Technology Jörg Spörle used Story Cubes in an official video. I used it to look back at 2017 and to raise the different challenges in the production site. Based on his findings, he succeeded in shaping his view what would matter for the site in 2018. Story Cubes are simply a great tool to find out how to get from A to B!

"Story Cubes are great to find out how to get from A to B, says Patricia Gómez. "
Michael Eppelmann

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