Four Uses of Storytelling for Your Organisation
As a change management consultant and novelist, I use storytelling techniques all the time. In terms of the latter, the use of storytelling is a no-brainer: storytelling serves as the portal, the platform and the whole entire purpose for saying what I would like to say. I have a story to share. The story provides an insight, idea or incident that I would like to relay. I need a way to deliver it . . .
As for the former, there are numerous reasons to engage in storytelling in a business capacity. Storytelling enables organisations to engage inwardly and outwardly. It provides a personal, personable and authentic approach for developing and growing organisations, and driving them towards success. Here are some of the main uses for storytelling in a business setting:
Managing Change and Conflict
Organisations are organic. They deal with planned and structured changes all the time, and unplanned changes, more often than not. Storytelling techniques can be used to enable managers and leaders to manage this change – and as a special subset of change – to manage conflict. The use of storytelling enables sensitive issues to be tackled with a certain degree of separation and distance. This buffer is a welcome window to employees. The process enables them to engage with the change/conflict without feeling judged, accused or in the spotlight.
Getting Buy-in and Consensus
When waves of change are ripe, the adoption of change can rise or fall on the support of people within the organisation. Storytelling is a very efficient method to get people on board. There are multiple techniques to do this – but most of them boil down to several main points. If you want to influence people to support change you can use storytelling techniques to do the following:
– Describe why the change is essential and why support is significant
– Describe the hairy things that will happen if the change fails
– Describe the great things that will happen when the change succeeds for the organisation and its employees
Framing the Past and the Future of an Organisation
Almost like us, organisations have a life of their own. This life includes an identity, goals, a mission statement, a desire to become something specific, or alternatively, to stay who they are. Storytelling enables organisations to provide an identity card for who they are now, what they may once have been, and who they hope to be in the future. This narrative enables employees to become an integral part of the organisation: they can develop empathy, understanding and pride. They can carve out a place for themselves within the narrative and define their own individual role in ensuring the organisation's ongoing development and success.
Marketing for Brand and Inspiring Customer Loyalty
When an organisation can tell a coherent story about who they are, what they are selling and why they are selling it, the general public can't help developing an understanding and empathy around the corporate brand. Storytelling enhances the impact of marketing and strengthens ties between the brand and the consumer. The narrative doesn't need to be about social impact or sustainability – stories around security, quality, precision, durability are all narratives that will strike a chord with a customer if that's what they need.
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