Thursday, November 30, 2006

Storytelling in business--and I don't mean fudging your numbers

I went to the "Innovative Story Solutions" session yesterday afternoon at the Fortune Innovation Forum, put on by The Moth, a storytelling group from New York.

So what the hell do stories have to do with innovation and business? Well, a lot of corporate life is about selling your ideas--to colleagues, bosses, customers and partners. And a compelling, concise story will work better than a Powerpoint any day.

Here are the main aspects of storytelling discussed at the workshop:

  • Set up what's at stake
  • Be selective - eliminate extraneous information
  • Show, don't tell - concrete details are far better than summary
  • Use a storytelling arc - a beginning, middle and end - and withhold some information to build suspense.
The workshop was highly interactive. Groups of six had to select a story and nominate a storyteller, prepare for twenty minutes (twenty minutes!). The storyteller then stood in front of the room and told the story. Great job by the participants, and the brave storytellers as well.

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Shawn said...

Using storytelling to convey ideas in business is one way to use narrative. Another is the collection stories from the field and then help the company make sense of what is really happening in their business. We call this story listening. I've build a Squidoo lens on this topic:

John Caddell said...

Shawn, thanks for your comment and for referring the Squidoo lens. Fascinating stuff. I'll do another post this week on your stuff. You've clearly done a lot of great research and application of the use of narrative in business. Regards, John