Nowadays we are enthralled by film, television and video games, in the same way theatre and literature enthralled us and continue to do so.
However, Homeric epics already included older stories that had been conveyed through word of mouth for many generations; and it is not difficult to imagine our oldest forefathers gathered in caves telling of what it was like hunting bison, drawing on the walls while developing the language needed to convey the details of the feat.
The use of stories as a means of conveying a huge deal of information in a compact, effective manner is also increasingly important in the world of business. Also including the implicit emotional aspects with vital weight in order for the story to encourage us and drive us to take action.
A good story gathers relevant events from the past and present, lends them meaning and a coherent structure, and portrays certain future consequences that would arise if we act in a specific way.
And in times of turbulence and constant change, this provides us with a vital value in order to progress: security.
If we look closely at why certain closely related companies bear up to the recession, and even prosper while other competitors disappear, no doubt we would identify leadership that has managed to find a story to underline the skills possessed and link them to the market, ensuring coherence and motivation among its workers despite their endeavours; a company with leadership that has been able to convey trust to financial institutions and partners and, all in all, one that has afforded sufficient security to avoid becoming stagnant or taking on an erratic pace in the face of a bewildering environment.
In the most advanced stages of competitiveness, it may be that the asset making organisations stand out is the conviction and certainty that they are progressing in a specific direction with an established outlook.
The Apple slogan “Think different” is clearly a testament to a successful story based on the creation of original products that do not seek to copy or improve on existing ones; but instead, products that seek to anticipate the preferences and needs of consumers. This conviction generates the pride and ambition needed to motivate and achieve cohesion within an organisation, and serves to convey this passion and portray it externally.
This article merely seeks to underline the inspiring strength afforded by stories. This strength is not new in anthropological terms, nor indeed in the world of enterprise; although it is one that we must bear in mind more now than ever. We need to be aware that a vital role of leaders and managers of organisations should be to interpret complexities and arrange them in an understandable manner.
Articulating our strategy and vision around a coherent, inspiring story could be the difference between success and failure when it comes to implementing said strategy.
All strength has its dark side we should also be aware of in order to defuse the danger. In a forthcoming article I shall detail the risks brought about by the fascination aroused in our minds by stories.