Definition Storytelling. Description.
Storytelling is the ancient art of portraying real
or fictitious events in words, images, and sounds. People in all times and
places have told stories and storytelling is even considered to be a fundamental
aspect of humanity. But a conscious narrative approach with a business
purpose, to such things as strategy formulation,
knowledge management, corporate identity formulation,
marketing mechanism and as a leadership
style is still relatively new. Although it clearly is a very effective
way to influence, engage, motivate and spark people into action.
Stories use verbal pictures to create interest, add variety,
and change the pace of a discussion. Stories can make dull speeches sparkle
and can help bridge the gap between data and knowledge. They can be used to
present anecdotal evidence, clarify a point, support a point of view and to
There are many kinds of stories, such as fables, parables,
myths, and legends. Stories are of many moods, such as humorous, inspirational,
educative, frightening, tragic, romantic.
According to Stephen Dunning, author of The Springboard,
How Storytelling Ignites Action in Knowledge-Era Organizations (2000),
"Storytelling gets inside the minds of the individuals who collectively make
up the organization and affects how they think, worry, wonder, agonize and
dream about themselves and in the process create and recreate their organization.
Storytelling enables individuals in an organization to see themselves and
the organization in a different light, and accordingly take decisions and
change their behavior in accordance with these new perceptions, insights and
Storytelling in Strategy formulation. History
Pierre Wack, a French oil executive with a personal
affinity for Indian mystics, realized that strategy as it had been practiced
in The Western world -- straight-line extrapolations from the past, forecasts
captured in three-ring binders -- did little to frame the choices that would
define the future. In his view, the true role of strategy was to describe
a future worth creating -- and then to reap the competitive advantages of
preparing for it and making it happen. Strategy, in other words, was about
telling stories. Under Wack's influence, Royal Dutch/Shell learned the art
of strategy as storytelling -- creating
scenarios about the future.
Steps in Storytelling. Basics and Process
on Storytelling by Tim Sheppard offers the following useful advice:
- Pretend you're confident. Don't apologize as you start, either
with words or a cowed body.
- Relax, breathe, play. It's a fun game that everyone wants to
play with you, not an ordeal.
- Tell in your own words. If you try to memorize the words of the
story, you set yourself up for failure and confusion. Just remember the
few lines of plot, and feel free to let them come out differently - no matter
how hard you try the story you learned won't be the story you tell. Let
your imagination work - that's what will create the magic, not your feats
- If you get stuck, keep going. Don't frown, curse, stop, or apologize.
Simply describe details of sounds, colors, smells, clothes, atmosphere etc.
to play for time - this is also a psychological trick because it stimulates
your imagination and mental images, and keeps your energy up, which are
the best way to trigger your memory. Or stay silent and still engaged with
people's eyes and they'll think it's a dramatic pause, as you let inspiration
return (don't look at the floor to remember). Nobody but you knows what
you were going to say, so they will never spot your departures from it -
there are no 'mistakes'. New improvised details or observations can be gems
to keep in for next time.
- Keep your stories to ten minutes long or less, to begin with.
Time yourself beforehand - just three pages in a book might end up taking
15 minutes to tell. It takes much more skill both to keep people's level
of attention and to control the pacing through longer stories.
- Take time to finish. Look at people, smile, and listen to their
applause - do not run away or gesture to dismiss it, the applause is their
chance to give you something back, and the instinctive hiding gestures that
most people fall into appear as a little insulting. Accept that they liked
Strengths of Storytelling. Benefits
Energizing. See also:
Help to understand complexity.
Can enhance or change perceptions.
Easy to remember.
Inherently non-adversarial and non-hierarchical.
Can bypass normal defense mechanisms and engage our feelings.
Storytelling Special Interest Group
Special Interest Group (100 members)
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| EPIC ADVISERS
| Vision Statement
Inquiry | Tacit
Organization Cultures |
Action Learning |
Scenario Planning |
Cognitive Bias |
| Mind Mapping |
Active Listening |
Covert Leadership |
Spiral of Silence
| Core Groups |
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