First of all I want to thank Jude Claybourne for a wonderful insight into the world of story telling. For past 2 days, I have immersed myself into the world of business storytelling under the guidance of Jude. It has been thought-provoking specially in context of the change ideas I have been toying around. This is my effort to put these things together.
2 things from the storytelling session that stayed with me
- Everyone is unique and each one of us have our unique stories
- Our stories is what makes us who we are
If stories define us then our change also has to be a story. We should be able to describe every change in our personal as well as professional life as a story. As a part of every change initiative that organisations undertake, there should be a story for everyone or at least every group. Here is where I would like to thank Jude again for introducing me to the easiest way of creating stories using a a simple template –
‘Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.’
I have tried this template and it works with almost every situation. Let’s try something funny to being with
“Once upon a time there was a ‘happy cat’, everyday she would play with all the other cats in the neighbourhood until once day all cats just vanished. Because of that she started feeling lonely and because of that she became a sad cat. Until one day a cute puppy came along and started playing with her and the sad cat became happy again“
I know the story sounds stupid but it you follow the structure, story just flows and you can apply the structure to any context. Let’s try this in a change context. Let’s be more specific – let’s try this in sales transformation context . Can we write stories for each of the group of employees who will be involved in this change using our template above?
“Once upon a time there was a sales executive. Everyday he would go out to sell pens. One day he sold pens to everyone he knew Because of that he could not sell any more pens until finally he found a way to meet more people to sell more pens“
I could have described this as that our sales teams are struggling with lead generation and we need a better way of generating leads more efficiently. But isn’t the story better? It just keep things simple and makes it easy to communicate what we are trying to do.
If we had these change stories for each of our key employee groups, then that will set the stage perfectly. It seems we as humans are hard-wired to listen to stories, stories connect us at a different level. We need that in organisational change management. We need to connect with employees at a different level and we need that connection to be strong throughout the change journey. I think there no better way to achieve that than change stories
Here is my challenge for you. Give storytelling a shot in your change initiatives. If not for any other reason then just for fun. Try using the story template at least for one of your target employee groups and run it past them. I am sure you will be surprised by their reaction 🙂