Basic rules of Business Narrative learned from the
Mutual responsibility in Oral Storytelling
These words are taken from www.historier.dk / Learning Lab
When you listen to a story, you know that you´re having a constant influence on it. It may not be something you notice consciously, but just the feeling of eye contact, the direct and clear communication between two people is enough for you as listener to feel that you are important in determining the direction the story will take.
Each of the people listening to a story affects how the story develops.
It is a strong feeling to transform into the real world: You helped shape the story - now go out and shape reality.
You have to experience it to understand it completely, how the almost hypnotic state a story can put a person in can stimulate action.
Dario Fo, from Italy, the winner of the 1997 Nobel Prize for Literature and a wonderful storyteller: “The audience has always been my litmus paper, every second. Are you able to listen to them, does the audience conduct you like a conductor of a major orchestra?”
King and servant
As a storyteller, you interact with your audience.
You swift between the most powerful King (K) and the most humble Servant (S).
S: Before you start telling your story you have to consider: Are the listeners comfortable?
K: Your beginning is crucial. Go straight to the story.
S: In the silence you invite us into the world of your story.
K + S: Tell us your story both as a king and as the most humble servant.
It is a complementary movement between opposites.
K: When you finish your story, you are the king again. Did the story inspire action?
The key word is interaction.
Interacting means a different approach to a lot of things in your daily life, not just concerning
If you interact in your organization it means that
• your company enters into an ethical, social and environmental interaction with the society of which it is a part
• your company is in dialogue with your costumers and consumers
• your company is open about new products before the new products are released
• your leader offers concrete stories showing future opportunities and starts behaving according to these
• you and your colleagues must act in accordance with the values that are accepted in the company
The organizational tree
There are basically four kinds of stories you tell in your organization
• Metaphors – to make a clearer over all picture - the tree is a metaphor.
Sometimes a simple metaphor can make the most complicated situation easy to understand.
• Future stories – to spark action and create a common goal - the canopy and the fruits on the tree:
Visions of what the immediate and long-term future will bring to the organization.
The Springboard Stories are told in a minimalistic way.
• We stories - hto create delightment and pride - the trunk of the tree:
Stories that create identity. Values become alive in these stories.
Pattern of these stories:
Home – challenge – new home
• I - stories - for a manager the I-stories create trust, for the employees telling I-stories means that somebody sees you – the roots of the tree:
Every person in the organization is important and every voice should be heard. Some of
these stories should stay hidden under the surface.
Often with details and some senses activated.
When you as a manager prepare a presentation for a group of employees, think of these three elements, connected to the I -, We – and Future - stories:
• Have you created trust by telling a personal story? Nobody wants to be lead by 'another
• Is there a element in your talk that involves a 'We'? Can you tell what the group have
done in a positive way? If not, can you use a negative story to establish a desire for
• The last part of your presentation is crucial to the outcome of your encounter with your
audience – do you leave them with hope? Is the vision understandable for the group? Is
A vision for the organization in the future is that its members are independent individuals able
to make complex and far-reaching decisions. Networks form, bloom and are transformed into
new networks. One of the prerequisites for a lively and chaotic system such as this being able
to function is knowledge about and actual experience with stories that are told.