Most of us have fallen asleep at least once in our lives to a caretaker reading a bedtime story or trying to finish a novel—be it romance, history or mystery. Storytelling uses words and images to bring ideas and concepts to life. While stories can be used to feed the imagination, storytelling also has value in managing change and transformation. Businesses can use narrative storytelling techniques to illustrate the importance of an initiative, explain product value or spell out the reasoning behind critical organizational change decisions. Who doesn’t love a good story! Here are some thoughts about storytelling from a number of storytelling advocates.

Shane Snow, 2014. Why Storytelling Will Be the Biggest Business Skill of the Next 5 Years.

“Funny thing is, storytelling has been the buzzword off and on since advertising became a thing. It’s always coming out of the buzzword pile because, at the end of the day, it’s a timeless skill. Stories have been an essential driver of change throughout human history. For good and for ill.

And now more than ever, businesses, workers, and leaders have opportunities to stand out, spread messages, and make change through storytelling.

Good stories surprise us. They have compelling characters. They make us think, make us feel. They stick in our minds and help us remember ideas and concepts in a way that numbers and text on a slide with a bar graph don’t.”

Torben Rick, 2014. Storytelling, an Important Part of Change Management.

“Storytelling can be a powerful tool when you want to drive organizational change.

There’s nothing new about storytelling. Long before we had books and newspapers, telephones and telegraphs and the internet and our ancestor’s sat around the fire and told stories. More than storytellers, we’re story consumers. . .

Facts and figures are memorable to computers, not to people. Research on memory conclusively shows that all the critical details, data, and analytics, are more effectively emotionalized and metabolized by the listener when they’re embedded in a story – and they become significantly more actionable.”

Related: Context and Conversation–Two Effective and FREE Tools to Use During Change Initiatives

Harrison Monarth, 2014. The Irresistible Power of Storytelling as a Strategic Business Tool.

“Storytelling may seem like an old-fashioned tool, today — and it is. That’s exactly what makes it so powerful. Life happens in the narratives we tell one another. A story can go where quantitative analysis is denied admission: our hearts. Data can persuade people, but it doesn’t inspire them to act; to do that, you need to wrap your vision in a story that fires the imagination and stirs the soul.”

Alina Tugend, 2015. From Bedtime to the Boardroom: Why Storytelling Matters in Business.

“Storytelling’s rise as the buzzword of the business world mirrors the increasing popularity of programs such as ‘Serial,’ the free 12-part weekly podcast about a real-life 1999 murder that had been downloaded a whopping 40 million times less than three months after its debut last October. The program was the subject of endless tweets, reddit analyses, news stories and parodies. Listeners clamoring for a second season quickly donated enough cash to Chicago Public Media to make that a reality.

And take a look at the rise of crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter. What are they, really, but a forum for telling stories as a way to convince people to give money?

But storytelling should be seen as more than just a sales tool. Businesses can use stories to get clients to better understand the company’s work, to connect employees to one another and to management, and to give a voice to those who don’t otherwise have one.”

Related: Due Diligence in a Change Management Project

Dustin Schneider, 2015. Why Great Leaders Must Tell Better Stories.

“Remember back to when you were a child. Did you get tucked in at night with a bedtime story? Well, I bet you didn’t know at the time that in those moments our guardians were displaying one of the hallmark qualities of a powerful leader.

It wasn’t care. It wasn’t generosity. It wasn’t responsibility. It was quite simply their ability to tell a story.

In fact, storytelling is one of the most important traits that leaders possess. In Howard Gardner’s Leading Minds: An Anatomy of Leadership, the author profiles leaders from all walks of life; rich, poor, educated, uneducated, political, social, organizational, etc. His findings yielded that “‘leaders achieve their effectiveness largely through the stories they relate.'”

Billee Howard, 2016. Storytelling: The New Strategic Imperative Of Business.

“Storytelling has become a top-of-mind issue in recent times, as technology has democratized the power to share our stories with the world. The fact that it continues to be a pressing issue in today’s age of collaborative commerce is no surprise. What is, however, is the attention it is finally getting as a business competency that drives emotional engagement and resulting enhanced business performance.

Emotional engagement is the sister to rational engagement . Rational engagement is based on the stimulation of the mind, whereas emotional engagement is based upon the stimulation of the heart. In today’s age of brand experience, it seems that emotional engagement is proving to be more and more critical to achieving winning results and effective storytelling is at the heart of this movement.”

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