"Through a story, life invites us to come inside as a participant." -- Steve Denning, author of the Springboard: How Storytelling Ignited Action in Knowledge-Era Organizations and Squirrel, Inc.: A Fable of Leadership and Storytelling
In his new book, "Squirrel, Inc.," Convergence 2004 keynote speaker, Steve Denning, describes seven types of stories:
Sparking Action. Leadership is, above all, about getting people to change. To achieve this goal, you need to communicate the sometimes complex nature of the changes required and inspire an
often skeptical organization to enthusiastically carry them out. This is the place for what I call "springboard story," one that enables listeners to visualize the large-scale transformation needed in their circumstances and then to act on that realization.
Such a story is based on an actual event, preferably recent enough to seem relevant. It has a single protagonist with whom members of the target audience can identify. And there is an authentically happy ending, in which a change has at least in part been successfully implemented. (There is also an implicit alternate ending, an unhappy one that would have resulted had the change not occurred.)
The story has enough detail to be intelligible and credible but not so much that listeners are but -- and this is key -- not so much texture that audience becomes completely wrapped up in it. If that happens, people won't have the mental space to create an analogous scenario for change in their own organization. For example, if you want to get an organization to embrace a new technology, you might tell stories about individuals elsewhere who have successfully implemented it, without dwelling on the specifics of implementation.