Good stories can increase legitimacy and persuade investors and valued employees to commit to your organization. At the same time, an inauthentic story could be worse than none at all. In this Idea, six strategies that executives can employ to create, refine and deliver their stories are outlined. Read on to learn more.
In a popular article published by Harvard Business Review in 1999, the authors proposed that those who use stories as part of their management and strategy technique tend to become team leads, small business innovators, and CEOs. Whether the story is about the “two Steves” of Apple Computers who worked out of Steve Job’s parents’ garage to start a multi-billion dollar company, or of Jamsetji Tata who created India’s Tata Group by buying a bankrupt seed oil mill with a tiny amount of leveraged capital, research has consistently shown that storytelling helps businesses to grow.
This prompted researchers from Ross School of Business and Alberta School of Business to look into what stories are told in organizations, how, why, and with what effect. In their working paper, Lefsrud and Jennings suggest that having someone who is well-trained in the art and science of storytelling can be valuable for organizations. Good stories increase legitimacy and persuade investors to commit to an organization.
They point out that though there is no one formula for a good story, there are certain features shared by better stories. In the best stories, the type of story, the audience, and the storyteller meld together in the telling of the tale. For this reason, the selection of the storyteller is just as important as the story itself. Sometimes, this might be an organization’s clients or investors; for example, social enterprises can create fundraising videos that allow their beneficiaries to tell their stories for themselves.
It is also important to remember that an inauthentic story can be worse than no story at all, and so storytellers must be careful not to veer too far into the incredulous.
In terms of how organizations can tell better stories, Lefsrud and Jennings suggest the following:
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