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Description of Storytelling. Explanation.


StorytellingDefinition 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, organizational transformation, 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 crystallize ideas.

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 identities".

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.

Steve Jobs StorytellingSteps in Storytelling. Basics and Process

The comprehensive FAQ on Storytelling by Tim Sheppard offers the following useful advice:

  1. Pretend you're confident. Don't apologize as you start, either with words or a cowed body.
  2. Relax, breathe, play. It's a fun game that everyone wants to play with you, not an ordeal.
  3. 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 of memory.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 it!

Strengths of Storytelling. Benefits

  • Natural.

  • Easy.

  • Entertaining.

  • Energizing. See also: Charismatic Leadership

  • 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.

Special Interest Group - Storytelling

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Forum - Storytelling  

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Compare with: Management Metaphors  |  EPIC ADVISERS  |  Vision Statement  |  Appreciative Inquiry  |  Tacit Knowledge  |  Changing Organization Cultures  |  Action Learning  |  Scenario Planning  |  Framing  |  Cognitive Bias  |  Positioning  |  Strategy Maps  |  Mind Mapping  |  Active Listening  |  Covert Leadership  |  Spiral of Silence  |  Core Groups  |  Strategic Vision

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