The power in storytelling

Over the past five months I’ve been privileged to facilitate an Innovation Pilot for a not-for-profit organisation.  The aim of the pilot was to work with a group of employees and simultaneously teach them about innovation whilst taking their ideas through the early stages of innovation, from creative ideas to proposal.

Last week, three groups presented their proposals to management and I was impressed and moved at the effort they had put in to be creative in their presentations. One group role-played how they would work with teenagers, so that the managers could imagine how the teenagers would initially react – and how the program would provide benefits.  A second group brought along a range of props so that managers could see and get a real feel for how their proposal would benefit the target audience.  The third group seemed to be delivering a standard “proposal” until they got to their stories – two simple but compelling examples of how specific people could benefit from the program they were proposing.

Their efforts reminded me of  Steve Denning’s story and comments about the power of storytelling.  He comments and that the difference between analysis and narrative is that analysis is objective and “heartless” whilst narrative taps into “the heart that we need to reach to get people enthusiastically into action”.  It certainly seemed to enthuse the managers and I am looking forward to hearing about their progress in the New Year.        

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