Please review the Portfolio for specific examples and Testimonials for recommendations of the services offered. Contact Michael Shermis (812-340-0479) to discuss specifics on how the following services can be applied to helping your organization. For Michael Shermis’ resumé

Most of the creative services we offer are based on collaborative story development. This involves a design process created, designed, and honed over the past ten years of developing stories for Fortune 500 clients, as well as government, educational, and nonprofit organizations. “Innovative,” “creative,” and “fun” are the words most used to describe what takes place in a retreat process.

  • Design
  • Story Development
  • Storyboarding
  • Character Development

The Story Insights Retreat

A retreat is a meeting between Story Insights staff and 3-5 subject matter experts (fondly called SMEs) who represent the client. A retreat is comprised of one evening spent having dinner with all retreat attendees, followed by a two-day meeting during which learning content is developed. (The length of this meeting is negotiated ahead of time depending upon the length of the story we decide to create.)

The main purpose of a retreat is to develop a story. SME knowledge is drawn out through Story Insights proven methodology. Story Insights has developed and refined the retreat process to ensure that every client receives an engaging story that seamlessly integrates the learning objectives we use to build a Scenario.

Why Dinner?
We begin with a dinner the night before content development for a variety of reasons, primarily:

  • Retreats are a highly collaborative, creative process. In order to work together effectively as a team for two days and walk away with a good story, we need to hit the ground running once content development begins the first morning. Sharing a meal together prior to this gives everyone involved a chance to familiarize themselves with the players and greatly contributes to the synergy of the group as a whole.
  • We want to hear your stories. To provide you with the best possible end product, our writer and instructional designer need to get a feel for the culture and environment of your company, and there is no better way to do that than to hear your stories. Do you have a story about an interesting event, employee, client, or even a meeting? We want to hear it, learn from it, and use it to ensure that the asset we are creating for you is rich and contextual.

Who Will Be There?
Story Insights will be represented by:

  • A producer, who facilitates the story development process and assists client with shaping the story
  • A writer, who will capture the story content and use the concepts to write the script for the story after the retreat is over
  • An instructional designer, who will ensure that the learning content is covered within the story and assist in developing activities and determining resources

The client will be represented by:

  • 3-5 SMEs, who have direct experience with the people for whom we developing the story
  • A solution planner or project manager, who will manage the review process post retreat

What Will Happen?

  • The entire team will use time-tested processes to collaboratively develop characters, scenes, activities, resources, and media treatment ideas that will engage the learner and help them to place the information, ideas, terminology, examples, etc., in context.

Specifically, we will…

  • refine learning objectives
  • generate characters to personify learners
  • craft scenes to reflect organizational context
  • leverage client resources
  • craft instructional activities to punch the learning objectives

Why Does It Need to Be in Person?
We often are asked if we can do the retreat virtually. We have tried to do this meeting, a highly creative process, without being face to face. Limiting the retreat to a virtual experience greatly lowers the level of creativity and the resulting stories are not nearly as interesting. Here are some additional reasons why conducting a virtual retreat will result in the same (or possibly larger) investment in the ultimate asset:

  • Development takes longer. Past experience has shown us that every time we have done a virtual retreat that development time takes anywhere from 1.5 to 2.5 times as long.
  • Energy is lower, distractions are higher, and it’s harder to push people to completion of the goal if we’re not in the same room.
  • While SMEs from other countries can add depth to the content, it can be challenging to understand accents over the phone.
  • It’s a rare call that doesn’t have technical problems; either you can’t hear everyone, the volume doesn’t work right, there’s interference, outside noise, and other reasons that make it harder to control the people in the room to ensure we’re getting their best work and they are paying attention.
  • SMEs are busy people who frequently multitask. If they are virtual, they are on IM, doing e-mail, and other tasks.
  • When building a story, it is necessary for everyone to pay full attention. Not having people in the same room means you can’t tell who isn’t paying attention.
  • Not being able to see facial expressions during a highly creative process makes it harder to know whether there is confusion, a good idea lurking out there, or other aspects of interpersonal communication that make the process work better.
  • The retreat meeting is often the only time that Story Insights requires the client SMEs to be physically present. In fact, many companies have often told us that it is this efficient use of expensive SMEs that they like best about Story Insights.

Producer, Michael Shermis, has worked directly with various companies and its SMEs for over nine years. We have run the engagement many different ways over that time. We have found that getting people together in the front-end “retreat” process limits the amount of money spent later in the engagement in rework, and results in a much higher-quality asset.