I have an abiding
interest in corporate storytelling. It came up in one of the Kmworld
presentations (courtesy of Accenture) so I wanted to revisit it via HBR.
Storytelling that moves people: A conversation with
screenwriting coach Robert McKee. HBR. June 2003.
- "Too often, [managers]
get lost in the accoutrements of companyspeak: PowerPoint slides, dry
memos, and hyperbolic missives from the corporate communications
- Book -- Story:
substance, structure, style and the principles of screen-writing.
- Unite the idea with a story
and an emotion
- "A story expresses how
and why life changes. It begins with a situation in which life is
relatively in balance… You expect it will go on that way. But then there's
an event… that throws life out of balance… The story goes on to describe
how, in an effort to restore balance, the protagonist's subjective
expectations crash into an uncooperative objective reality."
- "You create scenarios in
your head of possible future events to try to anticipate the life of your
company or your own personal life."
- "You emphatically do not
want to tell a beginning-to-end tale describing how results meet
expectations. This is boring and banal. Instead, you want to display the
struggle between expectation and reality in all its nastiness."
- "We follow people in
whom we believe. The best leaders I've dealt with -- producers and
directors -- have come to terms with dark reality."
- "The storyteller
discovers a story by asking certain key questions.":
- "What does my
protagonist want in order to restore balance?"
- "What is keeping the
protagonist from achieving his or her desire?"
- "How would my
protagonist decide to act in order to achieve his or her desire in the
face of these antagonistic forces?"
- Is the telling honest?
- It's all about oxytocin
- More oxytocin = more
engagement and willingness to help
- To get more oxytocin:
- Sustain attention by
developing tension in the narrative
- Start with a
"compelling, human-scale story":
- Why should people care about
what you are proposing?
- How will it make their lives
- How will people feel when
- "people are more
substantially motivated by their organization's transcendent purpose (how
it improves lives) than by its transactional purpose (how it sells goods
- "enduring stories tend
to share a dramatic arc in which a character struggles and eventually
finds heretofore unknown abilities and uses these to triumph over
- Stories create "sticky
- Book: Winning the
story wars by
- Who is my audience?
- What is the message I want
- Mine your own experiences
- Highlight struggle; keep it
- Case study: introduce a
(fake) nemesis or competitor
- The formula:
- Parachute in to the story.
- First and final words are
- Take a Goldilocks approach
to details -- not too much; not too little.
- Focus on one audience member
at a time.
- Consider poetry and economy
- Use silence
- Know your AIM: audience,
intent, and message
- Commercials using Freytag's
Pyramid are the most popular
- Note that a three act
structure is also quite popular for screenwriting, etc. From wikipedia:
- Book. The
writer's journey: mythic structure for writers by Christopher Vogler.
- Book. The hero
with a thousand faces by Joseph Campbell.
- The stages for the hero:
- He is
introduced in his ordinary world
- Call to
- The hero
is reluctant at first
- The hero
is encouraged by the wise old man or woman. The mentor gives advice and maybe a magical
device. The mentor can only go so far and may give the hero a "kick
n the pants"
passes the first threshold. They are committed to the journey.
encounters tests and helpers.
reaches the innermost cave. The hero goes to a place -- often underground -- to
find the object of the quest (Hell, dragon's lair, Chapel Perilous, Death
Star, labyrinth, etc.).
endures the supreme ordeal. They die (symbolically) and are reborn.
- The hero
seizes the sword. Gets the swag, knowledge,
reconciliation, or the woman.
- The road
etc. They aren't out of the woods yet.
- Resurrection. Transformed into something
new by the experience.
with the elixir.
Treasure, experience, love, etc.
- Character archetypes include:
- Threshold guardian
- Shapeshifter: character that
changes from the hero POV
- Shadow: energy of the dark
- Trickster: energies of
mischief and change