Strategic Storytelling



3M, P&G and the likes have incorporated in their leadership culture, Strategic Storytelling. What is it, anyway? Strategic Storytelling uses organisational stories as a tool to for learning or put people to action.

3M has thrown away the use of bullets points for years now. Before, all their plans and strategies were presented in bullet points. But then they did a survey of all the employees and the results told management that employees wanted to be excited about the future of 3M. Gordon Shaw, 3M Strategic Planning consultant, also thought that bullet points don’t excite and inspire commitment from people. So Gordon advised the responsible to start telling the plans in a narrative form. The rest as you know is history for bullet points.

Story is  an effective way connect to the mind and heart of people. Everyday we see and hear it in the office or on TV. We don’t feel it, but they affect the way we think. Even DARPA (DEFENSE ADVANCED RESEARCH PROGRAM AGENCY) spent on research to learn about narratives. DARPA believes that narratives affect our behaviour and the way we see the world.

If you think about it, narratives came first before logic. Jesus, converted and made people follow with His parables before Aristotle “invented” logic.  “Story is a basic principle of mind. Most of our experience, our knowledge,  and our thinking is organised as stories,” as cognitive scientist Mark Turner, pointed. It’s just surprising that in a world of narratives, we put so much weight on facts when both can live side by side Management Rewired Book).

Leaders can profit from storytelling. It can make them more inspiring and motivating if they tell the correct story the right way at the right time. They can use it to drive people into action without use force or fear. Start telling stories in your organization.

Here is a list story objectives from Stephen Denning which you can use in the workplace:

  • Spark Action
  • Communicate who you are
  • Transmit Values
  • Foster Collaboration
  • Tame the rumour
  • Share knowledge
  • Show vision of future

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