A brave new world: the need for storytelling in modern organizations
From strategy meetings to water cooler gossip, out in the open or silently after hours: everyone in your organization is involved in a continuous process of (informal) alignment that significantly influences their focus, attitude and actions.
These conversations are a vital part of human collaboration and they can't (shouldn't!) be robbed of their authenticity. But the grand conversational process can be given direction to suit the organisation's strategy and identity.
Below you'll find out why that's beneficial, but first we'll give you an idea of what this conversational process is - besides one of humans' most characteristic traits.
How stories relate to your everyday reality
All conversations in your organization use story one way or another. You use the techniques constantly to explain the figures on a spreadsheet, get people behind your initiative, share anything you're proud of, or to explain why your new boss is horrible. To understand how these narratives can be responsible for behavior (and finally for all change, achievements and failure) it helps to appreciate how these narratives are connected.
It is vital to understand that in storytelling there is a distinction between narratives and story. Story is something abstract: what can be imagined, dreamed, understood. A narrative is a concrete version of the story: how it's told, written, filmed. A story of a new boss can become horrible when more and more narratives emerge that support that image. The story of a new strategy can become enticing when more and more narratives deliver proof and good examples of 'why should we'.
How stories relate to behavior and action
Not only will the new boss be approached cautiously from now on, due to narratives about him people will also know what to be cautious about and know a technique or two from how others have approached him successfully.
Thanks to narratives, people don't only know what the new strategy is, they also know what success looks like in real life and why clients are positive about the new direction.
Within your organization, at any given moment, dozens of stories are being discussed actively through narration. Even more stories are being left untouched (for now). The main question is: are these the stories that should feed the grand conversational process?
If you could direct 80% of conversational efforts: which 5 topics would you want to have discussed in your organisation or team?
How you try (and fail) to set the conversational agenda
Within the ROTYS approach to storytelling, the primary aim is to tap into the conversational process and influence its agenda. Not (so much) to change how people think, but rather to make sure conversations are dedicated to the topics that matter and fit the (either new or ancient) strategy.
Directing the organizational conversation is not something new. It is one of the main reasons for the existence of communication departments. However, orthodox communication methods work from a stance of demand and supply, supplying more narratives for every story that is in high demand.
Especially in these modern times, where the topic changes so fast and peoples' minds are occupied with more and more stories, orthodox methods seem to add to the problem: we create more chaos, distracting from the topics that matter.
Times are changing fast: how story helps you keep up
The answer (nor the problem) is in the communication department. The answer should be sought after in congruence throughout the organization, leaving the agenda for the conversational process not in the hands of a few but putting it in hands of the organization itself.
From leadership to operations and every domain in between: every aspect of an organization can set the conversations that take place. Scratch that: every aspect of an organisation sets the conversations that take place. The question is if we've put thought in the way they do this.
With every narrative that is added to a story, the story gets more context. The understanding of the culture grows, and, more importantly, creativity, agility and capability around the topic increase.
Besides that, as the story grows stronger, it remains on the agenda more easily. A mature story creates cultural DNA. It helps organizations to stand tall in times of rapid change. It has never been more important than now to have an approach that helps to stick to your identity and to create focus in the midst of all distractions that are thrown at you constantly.
ROTYS offers high impact workshops and leadership coaching on Team Storytelling. Learn to understand the conversational process in your organization, find your organization's core narrative and set the agenda with your team in one of our workshops!