The Art and Science of Story Telling for Business

The art of storytelling always puzzles the people in business. This is predominantly because of what we perceived story-telling to be vs what it means in business. It is always important to breakdown a creative right brained concept with a left-brained workflow. This is where I believe that Micheal, the guest for today’s show does a great job is to break down this creative concept of storytelling in 3 steps that is actionable.
a) Context
b) Emotion
c) Evidence

But in this summary and breakdown blog, I want to highlight some of the interesting and relevant topics that were discussed.

  • Apart from what we already know as Product and service innovation, there is a social aspect to innovation which is accepting that not all innovations would succeed and how you take your peers along with you when you innovate. Communicating internally is just as important as communicating externally.
  • Culture is programmed for self preservation. It is the very nature of a culture to make sure there is not much resistance. The anti-bodies of today will chew up the innovation for tomorrow.
  • When you want to change the culture, change the story, about how today’s culture is included in tomorrow’s narrative.
  • it is important to make people feel a part of your story. You would want to make people feel included since you cannot have the far reaching effect doing alone.
  • Ethnography, is the art of scientifically decoding customs of individual people and cultures and can be one of the most important sources for insights.
  • The audience buy the story attached to the product and not the product itself. So telling a cohesive story becomes extremely important.
  • The key framework for story telling is a) Context b) Emotion c) Evidence.
  • 1) context – Paint a picture in world that relates to the audience. If they lean in then you have won a significant portion of the overall battle. 2) emotions – Show and get people to feel how much you care at who is at the heart of the story. It could be customers or internal stakeholders. It is about showing the emotional impact on people’s life and speaking to the pain point. 3)evidence – bring data and show proof.
  • The framework can be used in various scenarios in everyday life. From Quarterly Business reviews, strategic visions to roadmap exercises. Can be used while talking about the innovation cycle and a creative brief from vision.
  • Never start your story with the data, or else your story is dead on arrival.
  • Often, the team can differ in the story consistency. Having a coherent, cogent story, is an important first step for innovation.
  • It is important on how do you sell people on a possible future that is a moving target and maintaining credibility. You don’t wanna be perceived as a loose canon. As product innovator, you have to deliver the result in addition to creating the vision.
  • Instead of the problem-solution framework, use the obstacle-possibility framework. This helps you to bring a buy-in from the room as well. This additionally helps maintain the creative tension and has scope for inclusion from every stakeholder towards the solution.

Below are the notes straight from the blog-
What is Context? This is a really important principle as it relates to idea adoption. Most of us lead with data. If you start your story with the data, the story is dead on arrival because you haven’t provided any context. You might get people nodding their heads, but they’re not really on board. They’re not leaning in. They’re not accepting your story as their story. Context is when you start a story you start with the where. What I mean by that is, where am I? When you start a story, what your audience is trying to figure out is where the story takes place. What world are you asking them to step into? What’s that ecosystem, universe, or more simply, context? Paint that picture for them and then quickly capture their imagination. If you can’t get them curious and leaning in, you’re going to have a hard time carrying that attention through the rest of your presentation.

What about Emotion? This is where you need to show and get people to feel how much you care about who’s at the heart of this story. Who’s at the heart of the story is usually a customer or a key internal stakeholder. You’re telling a story in a way that shows that you get what they’re going through. You’re showing the emotional impact this has on people’s lives.

How does Evidence fit in? This is where you bring in the data. You demonstrate that you have a right to tell the story and that this story is real. The evidence is the proof. A caution is to not answer all the questions your audience would have. You want to let the story continue.