Xii) Not Understanding The Importance Of Stories

Under-estimating the importance of stories - people inform one another not through numbers, but through stories, ie describing where a piece of work came from, what happened to it, and why it might not be "right". It takes years to build the mutual understanding necessary to tell, and listen to, the stories. People develop an innate feel for when the work is on track, ie the gut feeling. If someone reports feeling uncomfortable, that's a clear sign that something is wrong in the process. Managers need to measure to learn and not see numbers as an end in themselves. It is vital to change the attitude from

"who's going to see this"?


"what can we learn from this"?

Effective stories unite an idea with an emotion. You can weave a lot of information into the telling as well as arouse the listener's emotions and energy. At the same time, this is hard work as it demands vivid insight and storytelling skill. Stories are how we remember: we forget lists and bullet points. A good story involves the struggle between expectation and reality in all its nastiness, plus the storyteller having a good understanding of him/herself and of human nature, compassion and some skepticism.

Good storytelling is an important element of successful management. A good story will energize people, and provide the focus, inspiration and meaning that will encourage organisations to move forward. Part of a senior manager's job is to

"...tell and retell the story of what your business is capable of achieving: where it comes from, where it currently is and where it's going. More importantly, it's about enabling all people to understand the value of a contribution to the story..."

Martyn Newman, 2007

There are 3 important types of story for management to tell

i) your personal story - demonstrating that you are an authentic and genuine person by communicating your beliefs and values as the basis for you are; furthermore, you have "to walk the talk"

ii) the group or collective story - this is about developing a shared sense of destiny and collective identity, ie a sense of belonging to a group within which each individual understands his/her unique contribution and appreciates the contribution of others

iii) the destiny or dream story - this describes why the organisation must change, where it is going and how it will get there. This story must convince and energise others to be part of the future direction of the organisation

"...the real question for you as a leader is: do you possess sufficient independence to author a distinct story - or at least a chapter - in the life of your organisation or business unit? Does the story engage people and provide them with a relevant and potent dream? Can you do this for your customers and, more importantly, can you empower them to realize those dreams by buying into the vision, product or service that you are responsible for providing?..."

Martyn Newman, 2007

"...Stories are important

Stories are connected to your spirits - by telling your story you stay connected to the deepest parts of yourself

Stories have a quality of 'evocation' to them. They evoke a community response by creating a shared suspension of time and listening

Stories have a rhythm (like music) that creates a unison of people in a room and builds a shared sense of community through the unspoken rhythm

Stories help us stop separating our lives between 'logic' and 'emotion'. Stories blend all the different parts of ourselves and keep us whole

Stories keep us intact with our lives. They tell us when we are fragmented......and when.....to reclaim our wholeness

Stories are often about loss......They help us to prepare for those events in our lives

Stories, when really listened to, allow us to separate parts of ourselves and move forward in our life

Stories, by ritualising beginnings and endings, allow us to celebrate......

Stories help us leave things behind in a way things are still part of our lives and not forgotten"

Stories help us look at the perceptions of our lives. In telling comes how we see ourselves

Stories are attached to our soul, and give us a way to symbolize what has happened to us......

Stories can create a shared 'what if'. They allow us to create a communal picture of the way things could be

Stories keep us connected to our spirit and help us to balance the giving and receiving

Stories keep us in touch with what we need and want from our work

Stories help to build a bridge between the storyteller and the listener; in a sense, telling a story and having people hold onto it helps the storyteller to move forward

A story can evoke powerful feelings in the listener......The feelings of a story stay with us for a long time

They say something about the way we see the truth; they are more than a logical sequence of events, they also say something very powerful about our feelings and how we see the world..."

David Pitonyak, 2005

Storytelling is important in changing mindsets

"...storytelling and connecting with people emotionally, rather than simply bombarding them with facts, can be a more effective way to encourage people to revisit deeply entrenched opinions..."
Malcolm Gladwell as quoted by Patrick Commins, 2017a

To get people to change their minds works against the concept of the veneration of consistency. This built in predilection needs to be overcome in an ever-changing world and people who change their minds, based on new evidence, etc, should be encouraged.



"...Resistance always has a story. Understanding the unique story of resistance to your new idea enables you to successfully negotiate a new story that is more attractive than an old one......a strategy for successful influence requires that you understand the story that competes with your new ideas..."

Annette Simmons, 2002


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