Why Storytelling is Key for People & Strategy

Just how foundational is storytelling in business, anyway?

If your organization is in the midst of reinvention, restructuring or repositioning, the future of your company and your career hang in the balance. In essence, you’re moving from an old story to a new story.

Getting others to believe in the new story is your ultimate task.

HR People and Strategy dedicated their first issue of Perspectives this year to exploring the importance of storytelling in business.

Click here to download the Strategic Storytelling Article and Discussion
(You may need to right click and “save to desktop”)

Peter Guber of Mandalay Entertainment Group spearheaded this topic with a point/counterpoint joined by contributing authors and experts including our very own Michael Margolis:

  • David Rock, founder of Neuroleadership Institute
  • Michael Margolis, Dean of Story University
  • Murray Nossel, founder of Narativ Inc.
  • Alison Esse, director of The Storytellers
  • Rob Quish, COO of JWT

Below we’ve excerpted Perspectives Editor Anna Tavis’s introduction to the topic of storytelling in business.

Peter Guber, chairman and CEO of Mandalay Entertainment Group, tells us that whenever he failed to connect with a client, it was because he failed to tell a good story.

This may sound counter-intuitive to many in the business world.

After all, isn’t business about being logical and fact-based? Where do stories belong?

Most people in business forget that they are dealing with human beings, and to engage employees and customers, any business interaction has to have an emotional component to it.

Stories add an emotional dimension to business communications, but more importantly, they evoke our hard-wired predisposition to process information faster and more holistically when presented to us in the form of a good story.

It is not accidental that Peter Guber’s book “Tell to Win,” has been one of the best-selling titles on Amazon since it was published in early March 2011. According to Peter, successful business leaders of the future will have to have holistic, empathetic understanding of their employees and their customers and will have to know how to tell a good story.

Our respondents not only agree with Guber’s position, but they take it to the next level.

Storytelling is an art that only becomes successful with practice. Our authors write about how to develop a successful storytelling practice. We all grew up using/telling stories. Somewhere along the way most of us abandoned stories for facts. We may never achieve the level of proficiency required for the entertainment business, but by studying the storytelling tips and techniques and listening to well-crafted stories, we can become much better at telling them.

Crafting our own stories and paying attention to the feedback, we will become better communicators.

Moreover, as HR professionals, we need to coach our business partners in the techniques of telling meaningful stories. As Rob Quish remarks in his response, organizations, just like people, have their own stories to tell.

In this issue, we only open the discussion of the reemergence of good stories as good business communication technique. We do so not only to help our professional HR colleagues become more persuasive in what we do, but also to make us aware of resources available to us if storytelling is ready to be revisited by our business leaders.

Click here to download the Strategic Storytelling Article and Counter-Point Discussion
(You may need to right click and “save to desktop”.)