Lessons learned about story-telling as a management consultant
Ever since, I can remember I have been fascinated, not only by great stories, but by how they have been told such that they connected deeply with my heart and mind. Storytelling as a craft, particularly in movies, had been of special interest to me through all my life as well. Storytelling for me took a completely amazing new perspective when my understanding of story-telling permeated into my over two decades of management consulting career. As a transformation consultant, no matter whether it was to craft a new vision, move the needle of innovation, re-imagine business models, define the value-propositions, brand, design marketing campaigns, inspire change or transform businesses, my understanding of story-telling remained the constant key-success-factor, while I engaged with clients from Fortune 500 companies across several industries. Here are a few lessons learned from all those years of management consulting about storytelling:
Audiences look for that unshakable connection to the truth in your story. For good reasons, even if they decide to hear your story, they are suspicious coming in. They want to believe in your story, but, they have to first identify them-self inside your story, before they can commit to it. That connection will have to happen at the emotional and personal trust levels of each individual for it to take on a life of its own with them. Only when people can locate themselves inside the story will they truly belong and participate in your narrative. This is what gets you their loyalty towards your cause, and just providing them with awareness of its existence do not suffice. They have to buy into it, commit to it and take ownership of it to build the collective agreement of the truth and reality in your story.
Great stories feed of the belief you have created in the first wave of audiences you have had, who have committed themselves as evangelists for your story. The story-telling craft that you skillfully incorporated is what increases the power of your story to grow exponentially as more audiences accept the truth from your story as their own. So, picking a good story in itself is not sufficient, they have to be told in a compelling way to make the deep impact.
Technology is disrupting the story production process by democratizing it. With technologies like, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, etc., permeating our popular stream of consciousness, they become the unlimited, affordable and user-friendly platforms for sharing stories to the world. However, with all the stories that reach globally through such means competing for the people's attention, you better have great story to tell to hold their attention. Or else, your story will become a non-story as fast as it came into the limelight. Needles to say, it is still the great story with exceptional story-telling craft incorporated into it that will make it to the big leagues. So, as Joseph Campbell says - "If you are going to have a story, have a big story, or none at all."