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Storytelling as a Leadership Tool A quick reference guide.

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2 Storytelling as a Leadership Tool A quick reference guide

3 Why tell stories? Stories are a form of interactive human communication Stories require the storyteller to anticipate the response of the receiver Stories invite the receiver to co-create their own personal reality Stories are grounded in the feelings of the listener and thereby tap the unconscious potential of the listener Stories can be the catalyst for change by springboarding the organization emotionally when bogged down in the rational and empirical Stories are suited for the creative-reflective needs of the age of complexity Stories allow people to grasp an idea as a whole and advance understanding more quickly Stories inspire creativity by engaging the imagination because each person hears the story as they want and are ready to Elements of effective organizational storytelling: Told from the perspective of a single protagonist Familiar and relevant context and at least plausible Some element of strangeness or incongruity to stimulate imagination Deals with a known and admitted problem Told simply and briefly Have happy endings to the problem at hand Ways we use storytelling as Project Managers and Leaders Embracing a new concept or vision for a project Milestone reviews and postmortems Teambuilding Break though the analytical to inspire innovation Simplify complex concepts Communities of Practice or best practices

4 Bibliography Stacy Bruns, Storytelling, An Effective Leadership Tool, MN State Univ 1999 Steve Denning, The Springboard, and Squirrel Inc., Jossey-Bass Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Point, Bay Back 2002 Fissure Corporation, Fissure Basic, Advanced & Leadership Simulations, 2004 Ali Jaafari, Project Management in the Age of Complexity and Change, PM Journal, December 2003

5 Storytelling for Leadership Geof Lory GTD Consulting, LLC Associate of Fissure Corporation

6 Tonight’s Story Talk about stories and storytelling Talk about why stories and storytelling is important for PMs and leadership Talk about how to use storytelling Create a process for storytelling Do an exercise in storytelling Tell lots of stories

7 What is a Story? Aristotle defined it as any communication with a: –Beginning, middle and end –Plot with characters –Combines a reversal and a recognition Requires: –A Contact –A Code –A Context Examples –Parables, fables, myths, chronologies –Rumors, jokes, tales, anecdotes –Comedy, parody, farce, satire

8 What is Storytelling? The delivery medium of a story that: –Goes beyond conveying information –Requires the interaction of the sender and the listener –Encourages the listener to co-create the story –Inspires the imagination and acts as a catalyst for understanding –Multidimensional meaning is delivered in the interaction

9 Storytelling is Human Communication Shaped by anticipated response - sender receives and receiver sends Made personal by putting receiver in the story - invites the receiver inside the story Best told orally so emphasis can shift with the situation or need Taps the unconscious association releasing untapped potential Inspires creativity and imagination

10 Different types of Stories Springboard stories Rumor slayer stories Knowledge sharing stories Future stories Hero and Survivor stories Kick in the pants stories

11 Why Storytelling ? People like to learn from stories when stories are delivered through storytelling “One can’t make a new heaven on earth with facts.” Henry Miller

12 How Do Adults Learn? Bite size chunks In context Experientially – physically or emotionally Problem centric Point in Time

13 What makes a Good Story? Relatable –Prototypical protagonist –Have to be able to relate to the situation/actor Happy ending –Positive outcome –Desirable by the receiver Addresses the problem at hand –Message has to be meaningful to the problem

14 What Makes Storytelling Good? Storytelling builds trust Storytelling unlocks passion Storytelling is non-hierarchical Storytelling roots the message in the receiver Storytelling acts as a catalyst to understanding

15 Storytelling Exercise One person at each table tell a story to their table Each person hearing the story should write down their understanding of the message of the story after it is told The storyteller writes down their intended message of the story Share with the storyteller sharing last

16 Project Management Model High Project Complexity Environ. Complexity Ad Hoc Bureaucratic Normative Creative- Reflective LowHigh

17 Project Management Model High Project Complexity Environ. Complexity Ad Hoc Bureaucratic Normative LowHigh Creative- Reflective

18 Storytelling in the Age of Complexity Characterized by: –Open systems –Chaos –Self-organization –Interdependence Traditional –Linear and rational –Empirical and reductionistic

19 Storytelling for Project Managers Promoting a vision for your project Team building Emotional engagement - Unifying point Best Practices reviews & post mortems Simplify complex ideas Culture propagation Rumor squelching

20 Take-Away Challenge Anyone can be a storyteller You can improve your story telling through conscious practice Be aware of your audience when telling stories and adjust accordingly Have fun and learn through storytelling

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