The ability to tell an interesting or amusing story is highly lauded. But smart leaders recognize that the real power of story results from its ability to engage. That is because sharing a story usually prompts your audience to recall similar memories or aspirations. Story pulls your listeners toward insight and understanding, and ultimately, to action and becoming advocates for your brand.
And this is why Thaler Pekar & Partners prefers the term storysharing to storytelling. Telling is transactional, implying a giver and a taker, and assumes a spectator. In our current and cacophonous communication environment, telling is old school. Sharing is modern, inviting collaboration and engagement. And listening to and analyzing shared stories will result in great insight.
We believe that to most effectively lead, smart people must fully develop their narrative intelligence: an ability to see the world through a narrative lens, able to recognize, elicit, learn from, and share stories in support of organizational goals and identity. To facilitate the use of stories in catalyzing change. And we believe that organizations significantly benefit when they use story throughout their activities – becoming what we call narrative organizations.
So, our work goes way beyond storytelling.
Here are some ways in which we can assist you in applying the powerful tool of story to growing your business, developing strategy, implementing programs, and communicating value:
While determining strategy and planning programs, it is useful to identify:
- Problems that are being addressed and the opportunities that are motivating action: stories can be tremendous sources of inspiration and innovation
- Critical points at which stories may be gathered that will aid in assessing progress and evaluating outcomes and impact
- Questions that will be most useful in eliciting illuminating stories
- Various ways in which to gather and retain these narratives
- Planning for and responding to crises
- Participants who will be accountable for gathering, managing, and ensuring the accessibility of the stories.
While implementing strategy or in the midst of a project, the collection, analysis, and sharing of stories will be useful in:
- Facilitating change
- Encouraging reflection and yielding insight on progress-to-date
- Sharing critical information with stakeholders
- Building trust among key participants
- Designing, creating, and transforming culture
- Making sense of complexities
- Offering solutions to problems that may have arisen
- Providing qualitative results and illustrating quantitative data
- Ensuring organizational alignment.
While evaluating strategy and program implementation, narrative will:
- Yield insight on what was learned, and how it might have changed the ways in which you work, or will operate in the future
- Clearly articulate lessons learned and the project’s outcomes and impact
- Connect past, present, and future stories
- Be a useful form for sharing information so as to strengthen understanding among staff, board, volunteers, donors, policymakers, and other stakeholders.
Stories gathered throughout are useful for branding, marketing, sales, and advocacy:
- Stories are a potent tool for helping audiences to comprehend, remember, and act on your key messages
- Stories should inform the construction of key marketing, advocacy, sales, and fundraising messages
- Collected stories will point to actions that need to be taken, and activities that will be beneficial (or harmful) to advocacy goals.
Throughout, sharing good, simple stories is vital to leaders and organizations being heard and understood.