Friday AM October 9th, 2009

Storytelling can have an inspirational and influential role in business. The Houston Organizational Development Network recently conducted a storytelling workshop at the University of Houston. Ed Mayberry reports.

The book The Story Factor is the winner of Penguin’s 100 Best Business Books of All Times award.  Author Annette Simmons says storytelling has been the method of creating the norms of human behavior throughout history, in religions and oral traditions.

“When we come together in a business, we started to create kind of a new shape of group—a thing that’s not a tribe, it’s not a religion, this is a business.  And we need stories in order to have behaviors that keep us all in the same focus and make sure that our values are the same.  We don’t have time for people to have real experiences of us—you know, we’ve got five minutes.  So what I ask people to do is to look for an experience that they can then tell in story form.”

Simmons conducts workshops on storytelling as a way to to influence and inspire people in the workplace.

“Because it just makes me crazy that two departments that could be working together were actually working against each—all that in-fighting stuff.  They would justify behaviors like withholding information with the story that they told themselves about that other department or about those other people.”

Simmons says stories can be told about a time when someone shined, or when they blew it.  It can be a story about a mentor or a story from a book or movie.

“Once you know someone’s story, it’s a lot more complex than that.  And it brings people together.  It takes a line drawing of someone who can be demonized and makes them human again.”

But Simmons says in a business situation, there’s no place for a story that you tell in making a point that lasts longer than three minutes.  Ed Mayberry, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.


Ed Mayberry

Ed Mayberry

News Anchor

Ed Mayberry has worked in radio since 1971, with much of his early career as a rock’n’roll disc jockey. He worked as part of a morning show team on album rock station KLBJ-FM, and later co-hosted a morning show at adult rock station KGSR, both in Austin. Ed also conducted...

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