|Image Credit Disney/Pixar|
I recently came across a blog post called 10 storytelling tactics to help you solve a tough problem at work, which I enjoyed enough to include the link here. It got me thinking about the bigger idea of storytelling, both as a problem solving approach and in the context of Design Thinking, starting with the ten tactics;
Embrace the problem - All good stories have problems. Embrace them. Take a moment to write the problem down in detail.
Understand the stakes - Write down what your company stands to gain or lose as a result of dealing with the issue at hand. Be specific. What would be possible if you address all components of the problem and the client gets more than they bargain for?
Ground the problem in your surroundings - Understand the institutional forces at play. What prevailing attitudes are present that may be contributing to the problem? What attitudes can you tap into to fix the situation?
Identify sources of tension - Take a moment and reflect on tension with clients and within the office. What are the sources of tension for your boss? What about for the company?
Look at previous conflicts - Write down a few other conflicts you’ve had in the office relating to the issue at hand. See if you notice a pattern developing.
Look at previous crisis moments - Crisis moments offer the biggest breakthroughs for companies. How did people in the office react during the last crisis? How does your boss handle a crisis? What about your boss’s boss?
Pick apart the themes - You may notice themes (i.e. accountability, trust, integrity) appearing. Write them down. Pick them apart.
Don’t judge yourself - Judgment is the enemy of story and a hindrance to problem solving. Make note of your judgments of yourself. Then quit it.
Don’t judge your boss and/or the company. It won’t help you. Seriously.
Embrace the problem again - The precise solution may not be there, but the problem will seem a lot more manageable.
We've spoken before about Who, What, Why, When, Where and How in the context of good storytelling. There is another application of the Five W's; they form a framework for good project management. If you have simple, clear and credible answers for What will be done, by Who, Why, When, Where and How, you understand the situation and have a good start on an executable plan and a compelling story to motivate others to help execute it.
Powerful stories resonate and motivate us to action.
(Note: When something goes wrong, and we make a mistake, it is crucial to be honest and work toward making the wrong right. In most cases, people will forgive the mistakes they are made aware of but are furious when even little things are covered up or ignored.)
Powerful stories reveal the truths and conflicts within the situation.
Powerful stories point to a greater cause.
Your company, and your life, are not all about youThis can be the hardest lesson we ever learn. Our lives must point to a purpose greater than our own well-being. People will rarely align with your self-interest, but they will align for a common goal.
Powerful stories teach—but in a different way. To speak the truth, we can easily put together a chart, graph, collection of numbers, or bullet points. Those have their place, but we need to use them to support why a story is powerful. In your life, telling a powerful story and being open to your true self is one of the best ways to lead others. When they see your honesty, it inspires them to lead honest, open lives as well.
Powerful stories leave room for interpretation. We don’t have to explain everything! This is such a temptation in our culture, which seeks quick answers we can easily file away. When you explain, it’s true for you and expresses your point of view, which becomes a part of the listener’s interpretation.
Leave room for the listener to have their own ideas, and ask questions! This will create the opportunity for future conversations and engagement which is a hallmark of effective management.