There's a lot of talk about storytelling going around these days. Over the past several years, this timeless and infinitely familiar craft has become somewhat of a darling in the corporate world, with more and more companies looking to use storytelling in their communications and branding efforts.
The fact that storytelling is in fashion is not surprising. Since man first started communicating with each other, stories have been the way we most readily and naturally share thoughts, feelings and experiences with others. Throughout history, great leaders have used storytelling to connect people to ideas, to each other and to a vision of the future they feel inspired and empowered to make real. (Watch Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech, and you'll see what I mean) Storytelling works because it's already in our nature, and a well-crafted story well told has a way of reaching through and touching us in ways that the typical advertising campaign or mission statement simply can't.
With that said, there is a big difference between storytelling and strategic storytelling. In many instances, the term storytelling has simply become a euphemism for corporate communications or advertising, with hopes of putting a fresh spin on increasingly stale practices. In contrast, strategic storytelling leverages the inherent power of this timeless art of humanity and uses it to shape the way people think, focus their understanding, and compel them towards desired actions. Storytelling on its own typically involves telling any story. In contrast, strategic storytelling involves envisioning, finding and telling the right stories.