THE NOT SO VISIBLE FACE OF STORYTELLING: renewable and sustainable human energy
Storytelling is steadily increasing its application in various business spaces (marketing, communication, public relations). However, when it comes to management, the use of narrative methods remains scarce and/or underutilized.
What content do we convey and what is excluded in a quantitative report?
What is and what is not reflected in a balance sheet with equity and performance indicators?
How do we weigh the genuine interest and commitment of human capital in an economic/financial report?
What meaning propositions do the figures in a budget express when we allocate or cut funds?
How is success processed and perceived in the organization?
What perceived congruence in actions and messages exists with respect to what the vision, mission and value proposition(s) «tell»?
The central success factor, in all cases, is the individual, regardless of his or her participation as a stakeholder in the system.
If managers want to take knowledge management seriously as well as the construction of an organizational culture in line with these times of innovation, change and uncertainty, they must understand and implement processes to edit stories with shared meanings.
The impact of the profound changes we are going through, increasingly distances us from the use of manipulation and imposition as ways to achieve «obedience» with sweeteners, stories and canned messages. Even more so for the new generations who are inheriting leadership.
The pandemic is a social challenge and we are living in the Covid era that has led us to think the unthinkable.
The lack of acceptance of structural changes that aim to transform organizational cultures without incorporating the active participation (top down, bottom up) of employees limits the scope of any strategy. It makes it unsustainable in a time of rapid change and uncertainty.
This view of reality can sometimes reveal unpleasant truths, but lasting change requires companies to face reality, whatever it may look like.
Managers using STT will not only hear agreements with management projections, but also gain potentially surprising new insights as they are open to challenging the status quo and the confirmatory biases of authority and leadership models aligned with a world that no longer exists.
Storytelling is a subdomain of conversation. Senior leaders are not the only storytellers. Everyone in and around an organization is a storyteller, some with more power, more voice, more influence and more systemic awareness than others.
Sustaining leadership models based on institutional cultures that are not very participative encourages and shows fictitious characterizations of the experiences lived by employees, adapting the stories to what is «expected» by the dominant culture. This is a major limitation for the expression of singularities, talent development, leadership transfer, integration of diversity and innovation with lifelong learning.
Single thinking is violent, demands obedience, homogenizes and equalizes the different, limiting the creativity that opens the way to personal and professional opportunities in an economy of changing values.
In organizational practices, Storytelling as a subdomain of conversation is not limited to listening and interpreting what happens: it opens a space for ethical questioning of the dominant narrative that validates inertia in management.
Today it is essential to enable comprehensive, inclusive and quality communications so that the reports and tools that report on management (accounting, strategy, operations, marketing, innovation, leadership, etc.) also incorporate narrative forms that include the «why and what for», emotions and value propositions that enhance collaboration.
The «learning» and inclusive commitment of the organizational system at all levels is a condition for the authentic transformation and high performance imposed by the new reality.