storytelling strategies

brand-as-business bit:  Last week, my guest post “Once Upon a Company” ran on upMover, the blog of UpMo, an employee-centric career management company.  I wrote about the power of storytelling to engage employees.  I realize that some business leaders may want to leverage internal storytelling but may not know how to do so.  Here are a few best practices:

  • Story listening – You don’t only want to take a top-down approach.  The most effective story-telling approach actually combines it with story-listening and story-triggering.  In story-listening, the process includes eliciting and collecting stories from all stakeholders, helping people to draw meaning from those stories, and then creating opportunities for the stories to inspire them to take positive, transformational action.  Story-triggering involves setting the stage (through experiences, statements, etc.) for great stories to arise and then actively collecting and sharing them.
  • Evolution – Stories are like strategies in that they provide direction and a framework of meaning that explains the why behind the what of a business. But they’re also like chord progressions used by jazz musicians that allow people to improvise and adapt within the progression to suit the needs of the moment.  People should be empowered to evolve the meanings and applications of stories as the company itself evolves and grows.
  • Individual ownership – Stories get the most traction when people make them their own.  So instead using PowerPoint presentations and scripts to convey stories, people should be encouraged to learn and tell a story in their own words, supported by their own anecdotes.  Each telling of the story should be an individual expression of a common narrative.

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