Storytellers sometimes break the rules (and that’s OK!)

On my second day of work here at Shriners Hospitals for Children — St. Louis, I received an email from our HQ in Tampa that Care Managers Week was coming up in October and asking us to do something on it. So I set about researching what Care Managers do and what this week was all about.

It was then that I found a decision obviously made by someone other than a storyteller. The week’s official name had been changed this year to “Case Management Week.”

Um, I’m sorry, but no. No!No!No!No!No!No!No! A thousand times, no!

You see, Case Management is about a process. And it’s not a very fun process. But care managers? Care managers are people like those in the picture with this blog. They have names. Jen. Janet. Courtney. Mary. They are people who do really important and often extremely challenging work. They have to talk to insurance companies and make the case why a surgery that is a patently obvious choice to improve a child’s life should be covered. Of course, insurance company folks are the furthest thing from storytellers. They do not see people. They see processes, by which I mean “dollars.” I would rather die a slow and painful death than join their ranks. Care managers also take a physicians often-complicated instructions and put them into terms patients and their families can understand. They are translators of a foreign language (medicalese, let’s call it). Without them, a patient and his or her family can’t make fully educated decisions about which way to go with treatment.

Now tell me: Would you rather tell that story or would you choose to tell one about “case management?”

So I made a decision to break the rules. As far as I and Shriners Hospitals for Children — St. Louis was concerned, the name change never occurred. Is that breaking the rules? Yes. Sometimes storytellers break the rules. We don’t lie. We don’t fabricate things. We just ignore decisions made by process-oriented folks so we can better convey what needs to be conveyed.

And that’s OK. After all, what are we trying to get across by giving this a whole week? It’s not the process by which case management is done. It’s that the people doing case management are essential, pretty amazing and worthy of recognition.

So yes, let your storytellers break the rules occasionally. The outcome is likely to be great and your organization is better for it.

Oh, and here’s the result of my rule-breaking.

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