The ROTYS approach to storytelling - From one story to a storytelling organization

Congratulations, you have found a great story to tell! So why doesn't it deliver what you hoped for? The answer: because you just told the story and that was it.

That's not what storytelling is really about. There's a lot more to it.

Do you nail 5% of storytelling? Here are your next steps

Finding a powerful narrative is crucial to successful storytelling. But it is also just the very beginning. 95% of storytelling happens after you have learned how to articulate your narrative. It's about growing your story: getting people behind it, getting it on the agenda, creating co-tellers, triggering actors, growing your audience, collecting evidence, (a lot more...) and: changing the world! 

Nothing you're not used to, of course, but storytelling fails too often due to a lack of integrated effort. Too often, we spend a lot of time and money on creating a powerful narrative and delivering it phenomenally and then just hope that does the trick. Surprise: there is no evidence this approach has ever worked.

Yes, one story can change the world. If you're willing to do it together..!

Successful storytelling is intentional and is 95% about working with your audience and turning them into either co-tellers (who generate spread) or actors (who make your story happen). Stories are what we use constantly to align, (shift) focus, decide, conceptualize, and so on. A team aware of their story decides quicker, does more of the stuff that matters and -with that - builds a brand from within. Change what a team perceives as their story, and you change what happens.

Here is how we do it at ROTYS:

1. It all starts with articulating your intended narrative.

When you translate the strategy into a fitting narrative, it should be about something that needs to change in the world. Be thoughtful about your audiences' (more than one, don't forget the people you need to pull this off, like your colleagues!) perspectives on it: what would they say? Why would they care?

At ROTYS, this step is performed in the intake meetings of all our programs. This step is more about the intention than it is about the narrative itself. Further crafting the narrative happens already, in step 2.

2. Next up: time to forget your ego.

Storytelling is a team effort and the sooner you get a team on board, the further you'll get. Work with your team or soon-to-be-team to create depth in your intended narrative. Explore context, find narratives that relate both in your practice and in the outside world, strategize together on how to appeal to several audiences. How you'd now sum up your learnings on your narrative is what we call your theme or collective narrative.

We use the term 'collective' narrative because you've created a side effect: your team will start to live up to your narrative, creating a collective behind your story. Our core focus is about growing this collective (mass proves relevance and equals spread, impact and effect), making this collective visible and enabling them to play their parts.

3. Integrate the story into everything you do.

The term storytelling is distracting, for most people it seems to be just about the telling part. Additionally, however, you should work on an approach to get this story into everything your team does. Think about these three, at least:

  • Broadcasting your story: constantly prove relevance and impact by collecting things like use cases, best practices and creative captures of your story. Hint: compelling media have more effect, and you can only do this wrong one time.
  • Create manifestations: intentionally create happenings in which your narrative becomes physical and can be experienced. Invest in making it happen one time. Spoil that customer who fits the persona. Organize an out-of-the-box field trip. Don't forget to broadcast.
  • Make sure leadership plays an active part: (all) leaders within the collective can point out meaning in the things that happen. They are the ones who put the narrative back on the agenda every day.

4. When you're ready, take it into the outside world.

This might happen early on, but in case of, let's say, an innovation track or new strategy roll out, you might work internally with the narrative for a while before including it in your branding efforts. Timing is crucial: do it too soon and your organization doesn't back up your story, do it too late and you've lost momentum among your people. 

Each approach to market a story is different. However, the same key focus points remain: grow a collective, make them visible and enable them to play their part. Read more about creating strategy for story development in the outside world in our How-To Grow a Story Within Your Marketing. 

A valuable and never-to-forget piece of advice: don't ever tell a story and then walk. You've triggered something, and that was exactly what you were after. Work with that dynamic, have your next steps ready. Be intentional. And turn it into teamwork.

Join us for a powerful 'Storytelling for teams' workshop.

Want to find out more about our perspective on your storytelling mission? Get in touch and we'll be happy to brainstorm with you. No strings attached.