Sunday, March 22, 2009

Storytelling: A Critical Success Factor in wise working?

While in my Design Management MBA graduate program, I cultivated an interest in storytelling and how it works in personal and organizational relations. I subsequently completed my master's thesis in this area, exploring the question of whether storytelling is a critical success factor in (client/consultant) relationships. Recently, I has the occasion to present this research at the Drexel University i-School, I thought you might enjoy seeing the video of my lecture as well as the slides which I used.

The video can be found at:

The slides are below:

A few important takeaways from this talk are:

1. We use stories to make sense of experience, indeed the world revolves around stories and we underestimate this to our disadvantage.

2. Stories are an important tool in educating (transferring knowledge), influencing the culture of our relationships & organizations, managing conflict, communicating vision, demonstrating leadership and establishing brands (especially your personal brand).

3. Storytelling is an art form we should all study and strengthen as anyone can learn its use and its ill-use damages us and our relationships with ourselves and others.

4. "Story listening" is at least as important as storytelling as it offers a window into the world of others and improves our ability to empathize with and serve others be that at work, home or otherwhere.

5. Stories can be used as an "evidence of service". Often our lack of knowing/telling good stories about our contribution keeps us from achieving many of our goals at work and in our careers.

6. Storytelling can be risky requiring sincerity, empathy, thought, planning and an understanding of the audience. Study storytelling and your audience so that it does not backfire on you.

There are many good books on this topic but the most broadly comprehensive I have seen is Denning's, "The Leader's Guide to Storytelling".

As always, I would love to hear examples of where you have used storytelling to advantage in your wise working.

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