Story can be a useful, powerful tool in the corporate setting. It can help leaders to communicate strategy, motivate others, create or redefine a company’s identity – and much more. The power of stories lies in the way they work on many levels simultaneously – the conscious, the subliminal and the unconscious.
However, there is no fixed formula for creating a company’s story. This must
be done on a case by case basis, otherwise the result is facile, superficial.
To create a story with a plot and imagery that will resonate with an audience one must first understand that audience. For example, when a client instigates a Change Programme, and wishes to use storytelling to build a positive response to Change, we begin by asking questions such as:
- Why the change programme is needed?
- What will change?
- Who opposes the change and why?
With this background knowledge we then ask questions about the audience for the potential story:
- Who is the audience?
- No audience is uniform, so what are the defined sub-groups in the audience?
- In those sub groups, what are their respective attitudes to change?
- What are their own personal goals in their working lives?
- What are their individual personal goals for the next five years?
- What are their outside interests? (e.g. hobbies, sport, family, reading, film, TV, science, music etc?)
Discussing the answers to these questions with the company often helps us can to create the kind of narrative that would resonate with the audience in all their variety, and, hopefully, create a positive attitude to the Change Programme.
The word ‘resonate’ is the key. There would, for example, be no point in telling a nice inspiring story about football if a large proportion couldn’t care less about the sport. Also, we have seen executives telling Cinderella-type
stories to their teams and their audience just feel patronised by what they consider is a kid’s story.
An important part of creating the story is to work out how to tell it. Telling a story does not have to be a speaker talking to their audience. It can be much
more interactive than that: we can, for example, embed the story in a group exercise, so they get the learning from the story by, say by solving a difficult problem through co operation.
Our goal is to develop a company’s story in close collaboration with those who wish to deliver it.
The next step is to turn the story into a useful communication tool. To achieve this, we work with those who will deliver the story to build up the storytelling skills they will need. These workshops will help participants to
- Develop awareness of narrative structure
- Understand the nature of character archetypes
- Develop a personal, powerful communication style to help them deliver the story.
Working on storytelling can help managers in their personal development. The workshops unlock their creativity and teach technical communication skills that they can in other aspects of their working life.