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Description of Storytelling. Explanation.


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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.

Storytelling Forum
  Storytelling is a Personalization and Socialization Tool for Knowledge Management
I believe that stories as a tool can be helpful for personalizing and socializing knowledge in organizations and in their business processes.
For example, if personnel have a passive character in their jobs environment, by stories we can ignite ...
  Management Approaches for Adventurous Organizations
In regards to an organization that is adventure based. I am currently looking for any relevant management theories I could take into account. Help will be appreciated, thanks :)....
  Subjectivity in Storytelling: Storyselling
Much of the past literature about storytelling assumes stories as neutral objects instead of seeing it as an object of which the perception and acceptance depends on the way the story is formulated and told.
Carr and Ann (2011) argue that a h...
  Using Idioms or Sayings in Story Telling
Idioms and sayings are rules of the thumb. If one can bring them into the context of business objectives by citing experiences it can make a good short story.
In the Gita, Krishna says that yoga is the skill in action.
What idioms an...
  The Object of a Story in Storytelling
In story telling the main intention is outside the story. One should not underestimate the impact that an apt analogy makes on the sensibility of a listener. Thus the object of a story is to deliver an otherwise abstract content to the ...
  Story Telling is Amazing
In many long speeches people get bored, but when the speech begins with story telling it keeps the audience interested throughout the speech. Amazing...
Amazing is also that people of all groups pay attention to story telling....
  Story Telling and Organizational Learning
Story telling adds to informal and incidental Organizational Learning in organizations or social groups. It is a powerful means to build a desired culture in an organization where the stories told ar...
  Ericksonian Hypnosis
Some time ago, I became interested in Ericksonian Hypnosis. One worry I had referred to scripts: what to say and how to say words to induce trance. Once I understood how to do it, everything became pretty clear - I can do my own scripts...
  Story Telling - in the Corporate Setting
Story telling, like songs or poetry, often remain in our memories far longer than a bunch of facts. In the corporate setting stories can speak volumes about the corporate culture, 'how things are done around here', acceptable behaviour (or not...
  Storytelling is a Part of Sensemaking Concept
I think that storytelling, which is a retrospective view of events that build the culture of an organisation, is a part of the sensemaking process, which was well described in  
  Storytelling in Childhood
My first lessons about society in general before I started school at age seven (to learn to read, count and write) were through stories told and shared around the fire place: they would be told with such intensity and humour, depending on the story l...
  What are the Disadvantages of Storytelling?
In a turbulent world, characterized by uncertainty about the future, failures, stress, etc., storytelling as a management tool can, probably, bring about positive interactions between actors in a business setting.
No doubt, storytelling must ...
  Storytelling in Appreciative Inquiry
A very informative and well written article. I have witnessed the power of storytelling - the impact of the person who is telling his or story and the impact on the audience - in appreciative in...
  Storytelling in Neuroscience
There is important emerging work in neuroscience that suggests storymaking is a fundamental left hemisphere brain function. It is how we make sense of the potentially chaotic flow of sensory events....
  Storytelling about Successes and Mistakes
In storytelling, we can also talk about learning from the failures and successes the organization had experienced. This is interesting to take into consideration in strategy formulation....
  Cases of Storytelling | Storytelling Cases
Good information! Who can contribute a good success case of business storytelling? Thanks......
  Books on Professional Storytelling
Who can recommend good books about professional organizational storytelling? Thanks......
  What is Storytelling - Definitions
Excellent page.. Who has a good definition of storytelling? Thanks....

Storytelling Special Interest Group

Special Interest Group


Best Practices - Storytelling Premium
  Applications of Story Telling. Usages
I have used story telling in business as a means to convey learnings, and use existing children stories that already have the lesson interwoven that may not be obvious. Dr. Seuss is one of my favorite authors for this purpose....
  Fundamentals of Storytelling - Basics
What in your view are the basics of storytelling any teller should master before being able to advance into the more complex skills and aspects? Thank you......

Expert Tips - Storytelling Premium

The Role of Rhetorical Competence in Charismatic Leadership

In past research, only little attention was paid to the relationship that exists between Charismatic Leadership and Rhetorical Competence. An interest...
Usage (application): Charismatic Leadership, Storytelling, Visionary Leadership

Organodynamics: the 3 Laws at the Basis of Performance in Organizations

Sherwood (2014) introduces the concept of organodynamics, a concept that explores the level of performance that can be achieved by organizations. In o...
Usage (application): Strategic Performance Management, Leadership, Corporate Mission, Corporate Culture

The Role of the CEO in Strategic Change Initiation

In management literature the role of the CEO in formulating and implementing strategic change has often been emphasized.
An interesting view to s...
Usage (application): Communicating Strategic Change

Resources - Storytelling Premium

Introduction to Organizational Culture and Climate

Presentation about organizational culture and climate, including the following sections:
1. Learning objectives
2. Basic terms
3. Selec...
Usage (application): Organizational Culture, Organizational Climate

Storytelling for Leaders and Senior Managers

Presentation as an introduction into storytelling for efficiŽnt leadership. It includes the following sections:
1. Introduction
2. What is S...
Usage (application): Storytelling, Leadership, Strategy

Summary by Deepak Chopra on 'True, Enlightened Leadership'

Indian writer of many alternative and spiritual books Deepak Chopra explains what he believes is "True Leadership": Great leaders are

Speech Steve Jobs on Connecting the Dots

Legendary speech by former Apple CEO and innovation guru Steve Jobs in which he tells 3 stories that together explain what is behind his immense succe...
Usage (application): How to Create a Revolutionary Vision: 'Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish'









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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