Dani Robbins

Values, Stories and Moving the Needle for your Organization

In Leadership on February 18, 2013 at 7:51 pm

When I was in graduate school, as part of a leadership class, I had to read the book Managing by Storying Around , which I loved.  The idea of it, at least my recollection 18 years later of the idea of it, is that you can paint a picture with a story that is better the anything you can describe.   In the book, the leader of a company collected stories that illustrated their organizational culture and then showed it to anyone who they were considering hiring, both to engage and to weed out candidates.  I have told stories ever since and encouraged my clients to do the same.

Imagine my delight when Ruth Milligan of Articulation, Inc  offered to provide an Influential Storytelling workshop for my clients!  Of course, I immediately said yes – and thank you; the session was last week.

Ruth started by telling us the story of how she became the coordinator of TEDx Columbus.  She then asked if we believed she was credible to facilitate our workshop.  It was the first time that I understood that when I introduce myself,  I’m not just establishing my credibility so people will believe the information I’m presenting, but that I am establishing if I am credible enough to be standing in front of them leading a session.  Huge difference!

Ruth defines a story as the bridge between what I know and care about and what I don’t yet know or care about.

That changes everything!

She said something else that I found particularly poignant.  (For those of you who are also my clients get ready for this point to be incorporated into a future session.)   She said if you want to know about an organization’s culture, have people tell you stories that tie back to values.

Values are at the heart of what I know and care about and what I don’t yet know or care about.

We learned how stories fit into larger presentations, and how to use metaphors to make complex points more easily understood by your audience.   One of the thanks yous I received afterward referenced that point as a favorite.

Ruth showed me that when I can tell a story that taps into emotion, facts and is tied to values and if I can present that story in is a way that has an obviously beginning with a hook that grabs the audience, a middle with stories and reasons that support my core idea, and an ending that includes a call to action, I could be unstoppable.

And so can you!

What’s your story? What are your values?  What is the impact of your organization? How are you communicating that information?

We have a world to change.  Stop presenting and start telling Influential Stories!

As always, I welcome your experience and insight.

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  1. This reminds me of something I once read about “Narrative Philanthropy” by Jim Grote. I love the idea of integrating storytelling into fundraising practices. After all, it is how humankind learned for centuries before learning how to read and write. Storytelling is part of our DNA and if you want to be successful, then non-profit professionals should learn to be effective at doing it. Here is a link to that Narrative Philanthropy article: http://www.cnpe.org/assets/273/narrative_philantropy.pdf

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