Why stories? Again, because stories are the universal human common denominator.
Think about it for a moment. How many times in the past month have you used one or more of these phrases:
- What’s the story? (What’s going on?)
- What’s your story? (Explain your behavior.)
- What’s his/her story? (Who is he/she?)
- I don’t know the whole story. (I need more data, or don’t take what I say as the whole truth.)
- That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. (It’s either the truth or as much of the truth as I’m prepared to tell you.)
- What’s the back story? (What’s the story that preceded this story that helps bring it into focus?)
- Here’s the story. (Here is the truth.)
- Nice story. (I don’t believe you.)
You get the idea.
In the same way that all of us use the basic concept of stories in a variety of ways in our everyday conversations, businesses use stories and storytelling to perform a series of mission-critical tasks from employee recruitment and morale building to sales, marketing, and branding. Smaller, entrepreneurial firms use stories to sell business plans to banks, and large publicly held businesses use them to sell analysts and investors on the company’s direction or to spin bad quarterly results.
Storytelling is so much a part of who we are and how we live our lives that we almost forget about its importance. To borrow a phrase from contemporary pop media culture, storytelling is “embedded” in almost everything we do as individuals and as businesses.