Development, Leadership, Project Management, Transition Management
13 marzec 2016
Once Upon A Time. The Transformational Power of Stories.
Once Upon A Time. The Transformational Power of Stories.

By Mike Rawlins

“How did Homo Sapiens manage to cross this critical threshold, eventually founding cities comprising tens of thousands of inhabitants and empires ruling hundreds of millions” The secret was probably the appearance of fiction. Large numbers of strangers can cooperate successfully by believing in common myths.”

~ From “Sapiens ” A Brief History of Humankind” by Yuval Noah Harari

Story-telling is what makes us human. It runs through every aspect of our lives and shapes how we behave to ourselves and others.  Because of this, story-telling, in all its forms, can be either a powerful enabler, or inhibitor, of change.

The stories we tell ourselves, conscious and unconscious, shape our sense of who we are, our values and beliefs and our behaviours. The stories we share with others allow us to co-exist in harmony (or disharmony), to come together in teams for common purposes, to celebrate shared triumphs and mourn shared losses.  Complex language enables us to speak of things that do not exist, social fictions that enable us to co-operate in ever larger numbers. Our imagined realities shape our societies and drive major trends and movements.

Stories are powerful instigators of stasis , keeping individuals, teams or organisations stuck – or of change – providing the inspiration and motivation to move forward – and are always in play for individuals, teams and cultures.

We can use story telling as an aid to change for individuals, teams, organisations and societies.

We all have stories, here is one of Małgorzata’s.

Good stories follow standard forms. Examples below.

  • Protagonist
  • Antagonist
  • Inciting incident
  • Desire/Journey
  • The crisis
  • The climax
  • Resolution
  • Wants and Needs



The stories must be your stories, they must be authentic and coherent.

They may be based on real events  as is Malgorzata’s story above.

They need not be real or true ” they may make use of metaphor to convey a deeper, inspirational meaning as Mike’s story.

But they must have meaning (at least one )  and you must have a purpose in sharing the story.


Choose your story.

Leadership stories can be used to:

  • Spark Action                 > Describe past success
  • Transmit Values          > Prompt discussion
  • Foster Collaboration > Prompt sharing
  • Tame the Grapevine  > Highlight with humour
  • Share Knowledge       > Lessons learned
  • Lead to the Future     > Paint the compelling picture

From “Telling Tales” ” Stephen Denning, Harvard Business Review

Story-telling is what makes us human. It runs through every aspect of our lives and shapes how we behave to ourselves and others. If you can recognise the stories in yourself and others. If you can learn to listen and respond as well as to share and influence ” you have a powerful tool for change.

Become a Story Enthusiasts.

Story Enthusiasts. These folk genuinely embrace storytelling. What they don’t already know about storytelling, they take time to learn.  As a result they move people by telling great stories. Be that about brands, strategies, innovations, culture, life lessons and so on.

Story Hackers. These people know that storytelling is in vogue. They want the benefits but not the effort. They pay lip-service to it. And seek short-cuts.  The most common hack is thinking that the power of story is in the word.  Story, like love, peace or joy is much more than a word.

You can find out more about story telling as a tool for individual and group development through references such as:

The Hero’s Journey ” A Voyage of Self Discovery;   Stephen Gilligan and Robert Dilts

The Hero With A Thousand Faces; Joseph Campbell

Into The Woods -A Five Act Journey Into Story; John Yorke

The Tao Of Story Telling; Claire Taylor


                                                                                           Until the next story begins “





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