Background for the Story Approach

Because of the years of involvement with Storytelling, I’ve had great opportunity to learn more about the engaging concepts of story. We all tell stories. We tell stories in our personal lives and we tell them in our professional lives. But what if we did it more consciously, and skillfully?

Conscious Application
That question burned in me for an answer. In 2004, I had the opportunity to work with the International Storytelling Center on a project with JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) in Pasadena, CA. We were helping scientists, engineers, and PR people further the message of JPL with the power of story. I had the privilege to learn directly from the two Storytellers on the project, Syd Lieberman and Doug Lipman.

Since that time, I have more consciously used story and storytelling in various ways in my leadership coaching programs. As what I was learning and more consciously applying began to evolve in my work, I wanted to take it all to another level for the organization. I began to experiment with story in my work with groups. What evolved was an approach to strategic planning that I call Strategic Story.

Strategic Story (Discover-Design-Deliver)
Typically, it seems that strategic planning consists of a gathering where we get down to the business of planning our actions; what I believe is an out-of-balance focus on the how. Strategic Story is about creating balance and order as we flow through the sequence; why, what, and how.

When trusted and followed, the methodology of this flow helps make all strategic effort more effective. In trusting the flow, we ensure yet another order; that of Clarity to Engagement to Connection.

We must first come together in the story we are trying to tell; this is clarity in the why. Once discovered we move to the what; furthering design through engagement of the individual leader. It is the union of these two phases that allows us to see A Strategic Balance.

Only then should we launch into the how. How we will act strategically−how we will all connect with the unfolding story−is now guided by a clear storyline as we deliver through a tactical structure guided by a larger story.

Why Story and Storytelling?

“Interest creates energy.” –Kathryn Tucker Windham, Storyteller, Selma, AL

In this 21st Century, strategic behavior is more important than ever throughout the organization. It is time for individuals to be energized by a common story of interest, and to collectively align energy in a strategic balance and tactical structure in order to tell the story of who we are together.