Showing posts from 2010

Storytelling: first step or last step?

This is a blogpost I createdI want to raise a new issue: is storytelling the first step or the last step in the journey to revolutionize the world of work.

In Steve’s own journey, storytelling seems to have come first. Up till 1996, he was in the grip of traditional management. Then he discovered organizational storytelling and he pursued that through 2010. His new book is about radical management which means that managers have to start organizing things differently: new goals, new role for managers, new ways of coordinating, new values and finally, as a last step, communicating through stories.

My own journey is in some ways parallel. It also began with storytelling. Up till 2000, I was a traditional storyteller. From 2000 to 2010, I got involved in organizational storytelling, on some occasions together with Steve. This last year, I have come to deepen my work in interactive storytelling as the first step towards organizing things differently.

In Steve’s blog (I love the word revolutio…
Washington, D.C., 2006. Golden Fleece, a loose network of storytellers, consultants and businesspeople in Washington. A young consultant has signed up for my workshop to find stories that show the power of storytelling. My presentation at the Golden Fleece seminar is more or less the same as what's in this book. It's something completely new to the Americans. The content really makes them sit up and listen; the room is filled with energy, and new knowledge emerges.After the workshop, the consultant is not satisfied. It turns out she wants to tell about her own experience with the power of storytelling, not other people's. I criticize her for not taking the opportunity at the workshop, while we were working with the stories. She smiles evasively. I tell her that this moment will never come again. Then she looks up at me with the most amazing eyes and asks if I would work with her stories now.We run around a little, looking for a place where we can sit. We end up in some ove…

The Engh Spring Tour

This is the places Storyteller and Business Narrator Svend-Erik Engh will visit on his tour.If you want to hear about a method to change your communication and your organization (if you want to change your organization before you change your communication, it is OK with me), come and experience one of these presentations and workshops:
Svend-Erik Engh brings an almost unique level of enthusiasm and energy and warmth. He is a terrific performer. Steve Denning, author of five bestselling books on Organizational Storytelling - a new book is released November ´10
10.03.10 noon Ystad, Sweden - "Lite Mer" - Lunch with presentations on new ways of communicating - MAIL
10.03.16 3.30 pm - 5 pm "Auditoriet i Lyngby", DTU Scion, workshops on change communication - LINK
10.04.08 3 pm - 5.30 pm Villaen, Venlighedsvej 2, DTU Scion - go home - workshop. Tell me your story and get useful feed back - LINK
10.04.14 8.15 am - 9.30 am Rockefeller Center, New York City Motivate and communicat…

What is it all about?

Basic rules of Business Narrative learned from the
Mutual responsibility in Oral Storytelling
These words are taken from / 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, d…

Svend-Erik Engh and Thaler Pekar at The Smithsonian institute

Workshop on Organizational Storytelling at The Smithsonian Institute, Washington D.C.Thurs., April 15, 6:30 to 9 p.m.
Storytelling has become an essential skills for managers and organizational leaders because it aids in establishing trust, articulating values, sparking innovation, inspiring action, sharing knowledge, building community, and generating followers and new leaders in organizations. Many leaders, however, have no background in storytelling and are confounded by how and when to share stories. In this seminar two individuals who have worked extensively in the field of organizational storytelling teach participants the basics, including the elements of an organizational story, when and how stories can be most effectively used in organizations, how stories told within an organization differ from stories told outside an organization, and how a story should be crafted to achieve specific goals and objectives.The seminar is led by Thaler Pekar, founder and principal of Thaler Pek…


Some interesting points on the difference between storytelling (from top to bottom, predictable) and storysharing (in all levels, chaotic)-

What is the outcome of Narrative?

A very good friend of mine is the CEO of a little Green Tech Company in Hoersholm, Denmark. He overheard a conversation between me and a woman, that I don´t know so well. The topic of our conversation was my work with Business Narrative. And she asked me, what´s "in it for the organization"? I thought I gave her a very good explanation. But afterwards in the car my friend told me, that he was confused, because it wasn´t clear for him what benefits the company gained from my work.
We agreed on two things: 1. The people working in the company finds stories, that they can use in encounters with costumers and other stakeholders. 2. I give them techniques to become better in presenting the company and the values it represents.
It was great to hear my friend coaching me!

Who can tell stories?

I was asked by a norwegian reporter for the NRK, Saanerlivet, 19. sep. 2009, who can tell a story. And off course I gave the 100 $ answer: Everybody. Later I say something a little bit more intelligent. I say that the people who knows the answers, the people that are sure about things and the too self confident people are not likely to be good storytellers. Contrary to this is the people who comes up to me and say that they will never learn how to tell stories - then I know I can work, I can find the the diamonds hidden.
Listen to the whole radio program (in norwegian and danish) here

How to prepare

I talked to one of my colleagues from USA and she is going to present Organizational Storytelling for a group of CEO´s on saturday. She told me about the importance of these people and how they all have a MBA. I asked her to give them names, instead of the CEO of Boeing, Macdonald and other major company I asked her to call them Peter, Laurie, Margaret etc. My colleague laughed and that is a good sign. After a while I could hear in her voice that she was preparing for interaction between equals. When you tell stories, you need to tune in to your audience.


How do you tell a story, so everybody listen? I am listening to Mahatma Gandhi at Youtube and thinking about the words of Steve Denning from his latest book "The Secret Language of Leadership", where he states that Charisma is not just something that happens from one person to the people (the Charismatic person is filled with Charisma and the people are just waiting for the Charisma to be spread). In contrary Charisma is given to the person from the people, so it is an interaction between the person and the people, that creates the Charismatic person.

I -, We - and Future Stories

Every leader needs four kind of stories.
The Personal stories to create trust The We stories to share delight The Future stories to get a direction of the work (these three kind of stories are descriptions from the reality!)
The metaphors for given a wider perspective (these kind of stories is often fiction!)
Do you have any experiences with one of these stories?

Morning Exercise

When I start a workshop, I often start with morning exercise. In a circle, max. 250 people, needs an equal number.
1. 2 and 2. Tell about this morning. 2. Get feed back from listener. a. Clarest Picture in story b. Say something about the way the story was told.
You can extrapolate the exercise, so you let participants turn around and then retell the story they just heard. Now with power, (some say lie, I never use that word!) and let the stories flow. Same feed back + what was the story about?
End: Let the participants turn back to first partner and retell what they just heard, now like a tale. A king, a princess, a troll, a dragon - whatever make a good fairy tale.
I have used this exercise for years and it never fails.

Narrative in change leadership

When you as a leader want sustainable change, you need
- a personal story to gain trust - a springboard story to make the change real for the audience - to listen and spread the stories of the change already implemented in the organization
see slide on web site: