April, 2016 | Published by Anecdote - Putting Stories to Work.
Greetings from the team at Anecdote and welcome to the April edition of Anecdotally, the first in what is shaping up to be a very busy 2016.
Last month we launched Shawn’s new book, Putting Stories to Work , at the State Library of Victoria in Melbourne. It was a thoroughly enjoyable occasion. About 70 people joined us to celebrate the book, in which Shawn spells out the process for mastering business storytelling. Over a thousand people have already gotten themselves a copy, and we are now seeing images of the book appearing on Facebook and Instagram all over the world, from Colombia to Switzerland, Canada to Kazakhstan.
If you haven’t already done so, you can buy your own copy (paperback or e-book) on Amazon , or you can order the special hardcover edition from our website . Shawn is happy to sign your hardcover on request.
Apart from releasing Putting Stories to Work and doing a lot of story training and coaching, we’ve also been busy with a big strategy story project. So in this edition of Anecdotally, we thought we’d share a key lesson we’ve learned while crafting and embedding strategy stories. We also have some workshops and conference appearances to tell you about, as well as some news from the research world: it seems the better someone is at telling stories, the more attractive they are! Shawn will also share the process he went through to write his book.
As always, we hope that you enjoy reading Anecdotally. Feel free to pass this email on to your colleagues and friends if you think that they would enjoy it too. And please do contact us with your comments, suggestions or ideas.
During our recent work on a major strategy story project, we ticked off our priorities. We encouraged the company’s leaders to take responsibility for the story, as opposed to outsourcing it to a department or an external agency. We helped each leader clarify their understanding of the strategy. We talked about the necessity of including failures along with successes. Then, as we worked towards final approval of the story, we reminded ourselves of something we’ve come to understand over many such projects: the importance of staying true to the spoken word.
Our strategy story work typically lasts for a few months, matching the ebbs and flows of activities in a big organisation. The process begins when we talk with the executives about the strategic choices their company is making. We then gather the leaders together to collectively fashion the first edition of their strategy story.
I’m often asked how I wrote Putting Stories to Work . People want to know about the writing process and how I did the research. I had similar questions before I started, including: How many words do I need to write? How many chapters should it have? What’s the best word processor? So in this post I want to share with you what I learned.
First let me describe the type of book I wanted to write. First and foremost it was important the book was replete with stories. It’s a capital offence to talk about storytelling and not tell a story. I also wanted it to be a practical book, a bit like David Allen’s Getting Things Done . It was important that it was research based. I didn’t want to just say, for example, that stories are memorable without pointing to research that backs up my statement. I also wanted to share this research as stories of the experiments. This meant I was on the hunt for experimental research rather than theories. I read a lot of business books and I was inspired by Adam Grant, Malcolm Gladwell, Dan Pink and the Heath brothers, to name a few.
It seems as though we might not have been kidding ourselves all these years. According to a pair of American researchers, good storytellers really are more attractive.
Last month, John Donahue, from the University of North Carolina, and Melanie Green, from the University at Buffalo, published the results of a study they conducted into the effect of a person’s storytelling ability on their perceived attractiveness — both as a short-term partner and a long-term one. They were keen to test a notion they’d come across in previous research: that there seemed to be a relationship between the way in which a person communicated and their attractiveness to others.
Other studies had looked at a broad range of communication behaviour, including non-verbal cues and empathy. Donahue and Green, however, were most interested in storytelling. Acknowledging the well-documented power of stories to influence and inspire, and the fundamental role that stories play in human interaction, they wanted to find out if there was a link between good storytellers and attractiveness as a romantic partner.