Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Stories at Work - Indranil Chakraborty

North American Indian proverb - "Tell me a fact and I'll learn, Tell me a truth and I'll believe. But tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever." That's what the book starts with. Indranil acknowledges the contribution of Shawn Callahan and Mark Schenk of 'Anecdote' an Aussie company engaging in business storytelling. Indranil runs a firm called 'Story Works' that helps organisations work better by using stories to get results.

"Story is a fact, wrap it up in context and deliver it with emotion," he says. To tell stories one needs practice and a bag of stories in stock. So gather stories from your experience, books, others experience and index them for future use. He suggests using apps like Evernote. How many stories do I have? Hmm.

Humans remember stories - they convert raw experience into a story. We know by now that we all have a data brain and a story brain. It is the story brain that makes decisions - so if you can package your data into a nice story and tell it in a way that it fits the audience's context and touches some emotion you're on your way to get the deal. (Abstractions, assertions etc are not story and turn off the story brain - so watch out.) Since people are not rational unlike what they claim to be - and are emotional - paint a picture of an alternate universe and invite them in.

Why stories? Because they 1) help explain critical and complex messages, 2) are credible 3)  induce lean-in behavior, 4) inspire action and 5) spread quickly.

The 5 Elements of Story
- It starts with a time marker or a place marker
- It's about something happening - a sequence of events, names, dialogues. Good stories help you seem great stories help you feel.
- Something unanticipated happens
- Can add a relevance statement if you want - why am I telling this story

Key point - Remember what you do in the situation is what interests people, not the situation itself.

The science of storytelling
- Build rapport
- Explain change
- Trying to change people's
- Sharing best practices, knowledge or success

Types of Stories
Connection Story
Stories from your life that resonate with their own values and beliefs. (To build connection stories think of 5 words that describe your character, values or beliefs. Think of incidents in your life, when you were successful/failure, proud, passionate. Narrate these stories to someone and ask what they understood from it. Tell to 2 more people, to yourself, record and tighten it.)

"You don't sell yourself, you sell them themselves." - my quote!

Influence stories 
Acknowledge the anti-stories - people already have negative stories about what you are trying to change. Acknowledge the anti-story and lower their defences. Then share the story of the opposite point of view, make your case and then make the point.

To make the message stick be aware of 1) abstract language 2) absence of context and 3) the curse of knowledge.

Clarity Stories 
Lay it out in this format
- In the past...
- Then something happened...
- So now...
- In the future...

Success stories
Weave elements of visualisation and emotion to your success stories so it helps them remember. Recast your case studies by incorporating the client, whose problem your product solved, into the heart of the story.

Story listening
This is a huge part of storytelling. To get people to talk about their stories - 1) tell a story 2) ask the right questions 3) use emotion

Using Storytelling to change culture
Seek stories from people concerned about values and how they lived them. To get them to talk, create a warm and friendly atmosphere, (some food). Start your stories with 'I remember...'
To embed values across the organisation
1) collect and select stories
2) broadcast the stories and recognise the heroes (oral storytelling is best)
3) create a sustainable cycle with a diktat form above to share stories on a weekly basis. Look for values lived and where they failed in their values.

All companies benefit from capturing stories.

Change management
Share success stories. Get leaders to share the stories through oral storytelling. Get everyone to share their stories.

3 Worst ways to start a speech 
-don't introduce yourself, don't clear your thought, don't thank
3 Best ways to start a speech
- Start with a fact or a statistic, start with 'Imagine...', tell a story
3 best ways to finish
- Call to action, a rhetorical question, a story

Popular story structure - Freytags' pyramid
- Background information, setting, character
- 1st conflict
- Events that add suspense, tension
- High point of suspense
- Unravel conflict
- Resolution
- Tying up loose ends

To tell stories with data, the data has to be significant and should uncover insights that translate into business results.

The Ethics of Storytelling
- Tell them as you believe they happened
- tell them when you've made up a story
- don't tell others stories as if they are yours
- protect confidentiality
- don't do anything you don't want others to do to you

Build a sustainable storytelling organisation says Indranil, because it can make an organisation vibrant.
  • Use stories to make a business point
  • Go top-down - focus on forming a storytelling habit
  • Create a story sharing process
  • Assign a dedicated resource to run the story process
I enjoyed reading the book. Some real stories that I enjoyed (not the ones where they drop names - these are genuine stories.) It gives some good pointers. I fully agree with capturing stories. Organisations should do that to spread the culture they have lived, to spread success stories. We need storytellers to tell and story listeners to capture the stories. Hmm. Interesting. To try it out.

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