Last Thursday, I met an executive encountering some significant challenges in a major culture change underway in his organisation. He had been inspired to use a story-based approach to help get traction.
He was keen to meet as he had some questions around the components of the story he was preparing to write. He had read Peter Guber’s book ‘Tell to Win: Connect, Persuade and Triumph with the Hidden Power of Story’, and was planning to use the challenge-struggle-resolution structure described in it. He also needed to decide who would be the hero in the story: the company, a product, a staff member or himself.
If you are working in an organisation and struggling with similar questions then I give you the same advice as I gave him…
Not next week, not tomorrow. Now! Tear it up, throw it in the bin.
Most times I have seen leaders use similar approaches it has been a disaster and the change initiative has been set back. These sorts of structures are great for professionals (authors, script writers etc) but mostly come across as BS when used by amateurs. Some exceptional leaders, who are expert raconteurs can get away with it, but not the majority of us. We live in the land of business reality, not in Hollywood. There is no place for poor fiction in business storytelling.
Amateurs fall into the uncanny valley of business storytelling.
Please spare yourself and your change initiative from this fate.
Amateurs need simple structures and authentic examples. An occasional analogy can be used as well. Simple structures are the story spine or even simpler is the structure below:
Effective business storytelling is non-fiction: authentic and honest. Leave fiction to the experts.
About Mark Schenk
Mark works globally with senior leadership teams to improve their ability to communicate clearly and memorably. He has been a Director of Anecdote since 2004 and helped the company grow into one of the world’s leading business storytelling consultancies. Connect with Mark on: