Here's a short, quick but powerful recounting of how my colleague Shawn Callahan is using story, story elements, and story formats to help companies articulate their strategy. It is very informative!
We need more stories like this to help us all understand how powerful working with stories can be in different applications. I love the process Shawn used. In particular I like how he encourages his clients to stay in the questioning and possibilities stage before jumping into solution finding.
This is an underlying and profound place to remain because thinking gets clearer and sharper. And better pathways emerge for implementation than searching for the immediate quick answers.
What few people realize is that this is a little recognized story dynamic. If with our own business stories, if we are able to share our stories and at the same time understand that those stories are constantly in a state of flux and flow -- where understanding about their meanings and implications evolve over time -- then both the stories and the response to our environment improves.
Relating to our stories this way means we are in a continual state of discovery. Hmmmm, is the meaning of this story changing? What is the point of the story in the context I find myself in now? What is this story really pointing to? Are there other ways to tell this story that sheds a different light on the business?
BTW -- being in this place is kind of fun. It's like being a detective in a mystery book.
In our demand for immediacy, this can be a hard position to maintain. Yet it is an essential dynamic, and a quality of excellence, in storytelling. Relating to our stories from this place is the 'art' part of storytelling instead of the 'science' part of it.
Well, I hope this article and my little review gives you lots to think about.
What are your business stories continually teaching you? How can these insights help you with your strategies and generating solutions?
Thank you Shawn for this fabulous piece and the thought-provoking questions it generates!
As they draft a new Comprehensive General Plan, East Palo Alto officials are collecting oral histories of residents — a process praised as a novel approach to…
Karen Dietz's insight:
Love this story! It's about a city using the power of storytelling to chart their future. Hooray!
Don't you wish more organizations -- whether businesses, nonprofits, or governments -- would do the same? I know everyone's experience would be much richer with better outcomes, too.
My only little criticism of the process the City of East Palo Alto is using are the questions they are asking. They are OK. But if they reaslly wanted stories they would be using story prompts to make sure they really heard stories. The questions they are now using will get them information or opinions and maybe not stories.
Instead of asking, "How do you make use of the city's parks?" they could ask, "Tell me about some of the best times you've had in the city's parks..." The first question gets you information like, "We go picnicing, we use the playground, I like running in the park..."
If you ask the second question you actually get a very rich story that tells you more. "I really like to run in the park every morning. The scenery is beautiful and I like how the city replants its flowers each season so the park is constantly changing and pleasant to be in. I run with my buddies. It is easy to find parking and we can hang out at the picnic tables afterward."
You get the idea. We now have meaningful experiences to help guide decision-making about plant maintenance, parking facilities, places to congregate, etc. that we never would have gotten by asking the first information-based question.
So if you plan to do something similar in your organization, focus on the "Art of the Question" and investigate story prompts and the Appreciative Inquiry process for more help.
Many thanks to fellow curator Bill Palladino @LocalEconGuy for sending this article my way!
Online conversion forms like PayPal’s registration page (right) are invariably formatted exactly like printed forms such as this credit card application (left)—approximately as fun to complete as a hazing ritual, despite having exactly the opposite...
I love love love this article because it points to another new application for using narrative or story elements in your business. Specifically here -- by re-designing the web forms on your site. Or frankly ANY form you ask a customer to fill out. Who knew??!!
The examples here are terrific and so are the tips. It is a very thorough article and one you will get a lot from.
Your corporate storytelling and employer branding strategy is not something that can be perfected overnight, but it is a critical piece of your recruitment marketing strategy and worth your time to improve upon.
So true! Yes, corporate storytelling is an iterative process.
Yet what I really like about this article is its focus on linking company story sharing and story strategy to the recruiting process. Want to attract top talent? Then you had better be telling your stories well -- not only to attract talent, but as part of the interview process, too.
But really, this article applies to all businesses of any size. If you are an entrepreneur or small business or nonprofit, you want to work with top vendors and contractors. Craft fabulous (authentic) stories, attract the best people to work with you, and excel in what you do.
Read the suggestions in this article for ways to go about this.
Tell me if you’ve heard this one before – you’re on a project that was thrust on your stakeholder groups from high above. They were insufficiently consulted during the problem definition phase, and they are now questioning everything during implementation. These stakeholders can’t get the project to be outright cancelled, but they can cause it to be ultimately unsuccessful if they don’t commit to putting their time and energy into ensuring that the solution being developed is appropriately used.
Sound familiar? It sure does to me!
So what is a leader, manager, consultant to do? Add stories into the mix.
I like this article because it directly addresses the difficulties of project management, enrolling people to your cause, and how stories can be one of the remedies applied.
The author includes 3 steps to shift the situation and get your projects back on track. If you are stuck -- read this.
And if you consult with others, tuck this list in your back pocket to keep your clients & project on track.
Narrative Conference 2012 CopenhagenNarrative Conference 2012...NARRATIVITY IN ORGANIZATIONS -- How can a narrative approach to dialogues be used to support employees, teams, and organizational development?
In many ways, Europe is ahead of the US when it comes to approaching business and organizational culture from a narrative approach.
The organizational track at this conference looks fabulous and if you have an opportunity to go -- or submit an application for a presentation -- then don't miss it.
The entire conference is on narrative therapy and community work. Two of the 3 tracks are applicable for business: Narrativity in Organizations and Storymaking.
And that's where you need to break down the bigger brand narrative into the smaller stories behind it that allow your audience to relate to your brand, to you (since you are the brand) and what you do.
This article is about personal branding -- as it relates to job seekers. Want that job? Then you'd better learn to share your stories. But really, this is fabuloous advice for anyone's career, whether you are looking for work or not.
Most job seekers fail to tell their stories about the work they did and the results they produced. They describe their tasks and sell their last job desciption. Boring! Yeah, that will really help you get hired.
So what's a job seeker to do? Read this article for a primer on storytelling for job seekers, and the kinds of stories you need to develop and share. Next check out www.astoriedcareer.com for more resources.
Product design, management, and marketing starts with solid storytelling, but the goal is to have it evolve into an immersive story experience.
I love a good story. Whether reading a juicy novel, watching a nail-biting film, listening to an animated reporter recount the events of a disaster, or keeping tabs on real life courtroom drama, we’re clearly captivated by the experience enough to keep us coming back.
No, actually it’s more than that. It COMPELS us to seek out more because we CRAVE the effect. It feeds the pleasure center of the brain. Yes, it has the same effect as taking a drug!
Why? Maybe it’s the edge of the seat suspense. Perhaps it’s the lure of gambling with predictions. It could simply be it reflects what we’re feeling or going through at the time. Whatever the reason, the elements that move us from passive observation to immersive experience are the same no matter the source or medium.
What a great article unpacking the creation of a story experience. Why do you want to know this? Because product/service development and marketing is moving fast into this realm. What is your customer experience? How do your products/services create experiences for clients? How do you link your biz stories and these experiences together to generate raving fans?
This post helps us tease out these questions and answers. For sure this is still a developing conversation -- yet one I hope you continue to pay attention to.
Thanks for finding and sharing this Gregg @greggvm!
Imagine this scenario: As a real estate professional, you’re walking a potential buyer through yet another home. You’re not sure how many homes you’ve seen with them. It seems like ...
I think this is a great article not only for real estateagents, but also for any business. And I really like the practical advice and examples specifically geared towards real estate professionals!
Here's how any business can use this advice: find out what your customer stories are, and then craft your biz stories to connect with their stories. CAUTION: don't make up stories. Making up biz stories to hook customers is manipulation.
Instead, craft your authentic business stories. Part of your work is attracting customers who can connect with your stories. But don't do this blind -- find out as much as you can about the kinds of customers you want to work with and their stories. There should be natural connections between your stories and theirs. So find them!
Read the rest of this article for more insights and concrete examples.
In the end, a successful website has a narrative. We can tell something about who the users are that the site is targeting. We can understand what those users can gain by having an experience in the product. The navigation, tools, tone, and environment should support the user and their quest.
While short on specifics or examples, this article is still a good reminder that business websites need an overarching narrative and stories embedded within.
I do like how the author discusses creating customer scenarios so you can craft the website narrative with confidence. When the author says, "Defining these story arches...." I'm not sure if he means 'story arcs' or 'story archetypes' but both are important.
Since I am once again embarking on re-doing my website (ay yi yi), I'm going to be designing it using all the tools available to me: stories & storytelling, overal narrative, scenarios, and archetypes. But this will take awhile so don't expect anything overnight :)
The strategic use of stories is growing rapidly in today’s business world as entrepreneurs and organizations recognize the power of story to engage others. Story has always been a key part of business communication, but the recent spread of “business storytelling” has also perpetuated some myths. I’d love to drop the term “storytelling” in favor of something like “storysharing” or “storylearning.” Here are seven reasons why:
Love this article because if you've ever had to justify storytelling as a core business activity, you've run up against these myths. And this article gives you ways to respond to each myth. Yeah!
We are in the midst of a “Visual Thinking Revolution” and leaders in all types of organizations are embracing visual thinking as a literacy of the future.
It seems visual thinking and visual storytelling is a top theme this week in the articles that come my way!
If visual thinking is the next revolution, then anyone building their biz storytelling skills are smack-dab in the middle of it.
Why? Because those who can tell a compelling story are already visual thinkers. We are masters at distilling complex thoughts down to images that convey meaning. Yahoo!
The job of the storyteller is to feed images to listeners. You need to be able to think visually in order to do this. And building visual thinking skills is part-and-parcel of becoming a compelling storyteller.
This article give 10 external forces that are fueling the visual thinking revolution. See how your business is doing, or where you fit in with these trends.
Statistics and infographics are best understood if used together with a metaphor or analogy. We explain how to make this work for you.
Displaying data as a story is challenging, yet figuring out how to do this is a hot topic these days.
In this guest blog post I recently wrote, I explain how to bring storytelling and story elements into displays of data (infographics) to create stronger connections to readers plus more powerful knowledge transfer.
I hope it helps everyone as they work with stories in their business, and data in their presentations.
"Using stories to catch 'smart talk' from the Zahmoo blog
Karen Dietz's insight:
What a hoot! My story colleague Shawn Callahan has done it again -- come up with another ingenious use for stories in business.
Did you know stories can help you figure out whether someone is selling you a bunch of snake oil or if they really do have the knowledge and experience they say they have?
This is what Callahan is proposing stories can do for you -- smoke out the truth. As he explains -- anyone who's puffing themselves up won't be able to share real stories about their experiences. They'll have ot make them up or tell stories of others they have heard.
To know whether someone DOES have the knowledge and experience they say they do, they will be able to share lots of stories about their work.
Read Callahan's tips for figuring out whether you are hearing the truth or a bunch of puffery. Then take the assessment to figure out if a story is really a story -- or masquerading as something else.
Staff induction programs are one of the great missed opportunities in most organisations. It’s time to think about why we do them, what we hope to achieve and even the word we use to describe the process...
The first formal meeting with new employees is also our first chance to hear their story, identify their strengths and invite them to be an engaged part of our team. There are many creative ways to bring some zing using resources and approaches that will be useful across other areas of your Learning and Development programs, Internal Communications and the business generally. It is also the first opportunity to set the tone of your communication and assure new team members that you WANT to be understood with REAL language and accessible ideas.
Via Gregg Morris
Karen Dietz's insight:
Thank you Gregg Morris @greggvm for finding and sharing this post!
For corporations, one of the best places for sharing your stories is during employee on-boarding programs.
This article shares some creative ways to get new employees oriented by no only sharing the company's stories, but also inviting their stories in return.
Using digital technology to tell stories can help charities with impact assessment, says Kieron Kirkland...
Using stories to evaluate results? Quantitatively??!! You bet!!
Here is a fabulous article after my quantitative heart.
The author Kieron Kirkland talks about how the organization, Nominet Trust, worked with the org story company Cognitive Edge to capture stories and then have the story authors rank what their stories are about on a scale.
Once the story was captured, there were several types of scales the storytellers ranked their stories on -- generating big data!
See -- storytelling and evaluation can be done effectively if constructed properly.
This article goes hand-in-hand with newer qualitative evaluation processes for arts-based techniques (like storytelling) talked about in one of my favorite books, Method Meets Art; Arts-Based Research Practice by Patricia Leavy (2009).
If you struggle to connect stories about your projects to quantifiable results, then run to read this article.
Having helped organizations articulate measures so they can see progress, the first critical area to tackle are which measures are going to be used that are the most meaningful, given the project's objectives.
This article will give you several ideas for how to get started.
TED Talks William Ury, author of "Getting to Yes," offers an elegant, simple (but not easy) way to create agreement in even the most difficult situations -- from family conflict to, perhaps, the Middle East.
How do you end war and conflict? By finding a different story to share.
While this is not about business storytelling per se, it is a fabulous and inspiring video on the power of a story. Perfect for a little weekend inspiration.
Story sharing has been recognized as one of the most effective tools in peace and justice work.
William Ury talks here about his work negotiating peace in world conflicts and how choosing a different story can make all the difference in the world.
If Ury can do this on a global scale, surely we can take lessons here and apply it to our organizational conflicts, and conflicts in our personal lives.
May this video inspire you to new heights in your storytelling.
Some companies try to establish a knowledge management to promote the creation of new knowledge, and these efforts should seek to encompass also ways of dealing with the tacit knowledge. Storytelling can be one of these forms, not only of transferring knowledge but also create an environment that disrupts and also brings balance and relaxation.
I like that this article talks about storytelling and knowledge transfer, and that it mentions how sharing stories can also bring balance and relaxation. Yes!
The author discusses when knowledge transfer doesn't work and why storytelling does. Then he goes on to chat about how to best use stories for knowledge transfer.
Even better, the author poses several questions for us to ask when using stories in this way that is based on listening. Lovely! I know you will enjoy this piece.
OK, when I think business model I think of how I have structured my business for service/product delivery, client satisfaction, and business growth. That's not quite the same as telling the story about how your business got started.
Yet the two stories are both valuable to tell. Most people want to know the Founding story of how you got started. But the story about how you chose your business model is equally as interesting and is a fabulous story to share with the right people in the right context.
This article is actually talking more about sharing your Founding story and your Future story, both of which are critical to have in your repertoire. What I really like about the post is the way it describes what happens for people listening to the story. It is a beautiful description of the 'pull' that happens in storytelling. This 'pull' dynamic is often completely ignored or under-appreciated/leveraged in business story sharing.
So go read the insights this article has to share, keep telling those Founding & Future stories, and don't forget to share the story of your business model when you can!
Essentially, the process involves the collection of significant change (SC) stories emanating from the field level, and the systematic selection of the most significant of these stories by panels of designated stakeholders or staff.
OK -- it is not a sexy title and this is not a sexy article -- but it is brief! Plus it shares with us a very cool concept / proceess / references about the technique of MSC to use in organizational change projects and/or project management.
Yippee! Organizational change is hard. The MSC process offers a way to help that along through story sharing. And I really like the collection of resource links to follow for more learning.
And don't forget to read all of the comments, too! Lots more gold there.
Traditional advertising can get lost in the daily media blitz. Give people what they really love: stories.
Yes, absolutely. I like this article because it covers all of the 'why' questions -- about why you would use case studies. These are really good points showing how they are a powerful marketing tool.
The author then shares the 'rules' to follow to create your case study. Well, they are OK as far is it goes. But here are the critical rules that were left out:
Add sensory material (the language of the senses)
Use conversational language -- avoid business speak!
If you miss including these three rules, you will create case studies that are dry dry dry as toast and as boring as watching grass grow. And frankly, boring case studies are the norm in business. I deal with this every single time with my clients.
So follow these 'rules', but make your case studies come alive as stories using all the storytelling tools available to you. That's the way to stay out of the quicksand and bring more customers knocking on your door.
It's the newest job search tool. The visual nature of Pinterest, which allows users to create virtual boards onto which they can pin images, is perfect for showing prospective employers what you've done so far.
What a cool post! I don't know how pervasive visual storied resumes will become, but if you are in certain creative and technical fields, this could be right up your alley. Or if you want to stand outin any crowd of job applicants!
These are very creative examples of how job seekers are storifying and visualizing their resumes. You can do this too!
For non-job seekers: think about turning your 'resume' into a visual story that you can use on your "About Us" page, or add it into your printed promo material. It could really make you standout and be fun to boot!
Are these technically stories? Eh -- maybe yes, maybe no. But at the very least they are using storytelling elements.
Enjoy looking at these and I hope you get lots of great ideas for your resume/bio.
A step-by-step approach, using Aristotle’s view on Greek tragedy as it’s core, that will help designers design solid interactive projects that engage customers in the right way.
[thanks to @storytellin for tweeting about this] and thank you fellow curator Gimli Goose for sharing it.
Here is a slide deck on SlideShare (55 slides) that explains web design through Aristotle's story structure/elements. Some of the points are a bit obscure and hard to understand without really studying the slides. But overall, it does make the important link between storytelling and websites.
View this file and start thinking about ways you can shift your website to be more story driven. I think you will like the results!
All indicators are pointing to the growing importance of storytelling in the intertwined social media, PR and advertising worlds. In a remarkably clever and practical way, storytelling is a wonderful addition to any deserving CV or résumé.
Hear hear! The author is absolutely correct. Bringing story elements and storytelling into your resume, CV or portfolio makes you so much more attractive as a job candidate because you will be selling YOU and the results you produced -- NOT a description of your last position.
I do so wish more people would 'get' the significance of this shift in thinking and actively bring stories into the job hunting process.
Well, this article should help out in that shift. Enjoy reading it and then start figuring out where and how to bring stories into your job hunt (visit the website A Storied Career for tools).