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What's the Story?

Dave Pollard offers some useful commentary on — and consideration of — the role stories can play in a project. Addressing the information and entertainment value stories have as tools to help influence and inspire behavior in a team setting, Pollard concludes that a good story is like a good gift.

Good stories, like good gifts, seem to have one or more of five qualities:
  • Evocative — they provoke a profound intellectual, emotional, or sensual response.
  • Transporting — they 'carry the recipient' to another place, another time, by imagery or memory or resonance
  • Persuasive — they cause a fundamental shift in thinking or perception
  • Memorable — they leave something behind that the recipient will hold for a long time
  • Useful — they make something the recipient needs to do easier, faster, or more pleasurable

His conclusions reminded me of a piece Harriet Rubin wrote for Fast Company in 1998. Looking at how the best storytellers win, she highlights five qualities:

  • Storytellers don't bother with the distinction between dreams and reality.
  • Storytellers don't draw intellectual boundaries.
  • Storytellers play with time and space.
  • Storytellers know how to find characters to work with.
  • Storytellers respect history.

Kenny Moore, corporate ombudsman for Keyspan, knows how to stage a good story. How do you use stories in your organization? What kinds of stories catch on and become part of the corporate culture and lore?

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  • Nick

    I like to spend my Sunday afternoons at the Starbucks in the local Borders Books. Last week I picked up Ken Blanchard⿙s High Five . For anyone not familiar with Blanchard - his books (Raving Fans, Gung-Ho, One Minute Manager - to name a few) are all "business" books that have business principles couched in a story. I am always drawn in by the story and the believability of the characters (talk about eliciting an emotional response) and always go away with lessons that can be applied. As with all his other books High 5 drew me in and had me welled up a few times. More than that it brought home to me the power of the Story and had me wondering how I could begin to use the Story to illustrate solutions. I am not there yet but I can't wait to see others ideas on this subject.