Saturday, March 03, 2012

Storytelling in Radical Management

A group of business innovators will explore the link between the new way of organizing the workplace and the ancient way of communication.

The event will take place in Budapest, Hungary the 28th and 29th of March - read more here.

The Radical Management introduces a serious of new communication challenges, where Storytelling is the key to success.

The new way of leadership requires communication based on open dialogue and direct actions. When you use stories to create trust, it starts the open dialogue with your costumer and continues in the open processes within your organization, that is the pathway to success.

This article explains the connection between Radical Management and Storytelling. As a storyteller I find it natural to start with the stories. Why do human beings tell stories?


Reality is a strange thing. Sometimes it almost seems logical. But then in an instant somebody smiles at you or hurt your feelings or surprises you. You’re hit by an emotion and, because you’re human, you build a structure around it. You tell a story.

The structure is inside your DNA. It worked for you when you were born, when you were a child, later as a teen ager when you fell in love, later as a parent when your children should know the basic values of being a human being, and again in the books you read, in the movies you watch, in the plays you watch, and again in your dreams, and again in your visions of the future and again and again …

Whenever there are two people, there is an emotion, and whenever you´ll find emotions, you´ll find a story.

Working place

An employee starts at his or her new workplace and begins hearing stories about the other employees, the values, the vision and the mission statement. The new employee asks a simple question, "Does the company do what they say they do?"

Depending on what the reality in the company is, the newcomer will consciously or unconsciously pick out a few of the stories told in the company and start retelling them in a way that reflects his values and the way he thinks things should be done.

In an interaction with the reality in the workplace, the newcomer acts, tells and is told about – and that is how the newcomer becomes a part of the company.

Every human being acts and uses stories to make his or her actions understandable. The way the stories are transformed tells the employee whether or not he or she is accepted by the organization.

Radical Management and storytelling

Radical Management is based on an open dialogue with the customer. The result driven organization is flexible for changes as customers needs are changing.

In the dialogue with clients your questions should be open and inspire for stories.

Your key to success is to translate these stories into action.

Radical Management starts with a story of client delight. The entire organization should tell and act according to this story.

As the process continues, the innovative solutions to the changing demands of the customer, constantly reflects clients stories as you proceed with new and innovative solutions.

The danish software developing company Systematic:

"We always make sure to involve our costumers actively in all phases of the development process. This means we can ensure users´ actual needs better."

Radical Springboard

The Radical Management principles are accused that it only works in software development. This is not so.

Let me tell you of a case, where an account department used the Radical Management principles of costumers delight and linked these principles with a proved Storytelling technique called Springboard Stories.

A Springboard Story connects the future to the past in the present.

A leader uses Springboard Stories to give employees a picture of the future possibilities. He or she finds an example from the past where a challenge was overcomed and tells the group about the event to inspire for more of the same actions. The outcome of a Springboard Story is changed behavoiur.

The Springboard Stories are explained by Steve Denning in many books and articles.


The account department had, like so many other community organizations in recent years undergone some structural changes and also a period of significant management difficulties.
Employees in the department needed to find positive stories in the organization, including their relationship to customers.
The Storytelling process were part of a two-day seminar entitled 'Identity and Development ".
The purpose of Radical Management Springboard process was to clarify for everyone, including employees themselves how the department can provide customers value.
The stories should motivate the staff to move in a direction that meets the customers demands, so their understanding, expectations and requirements are satisfied.

Before the seminar, we interviewed a selected group of the department's customers about what the costumers saw as the future challenges. Interviews were made on video and edited for presentation.

When we presented the videos for the group the response were mixed. Some were laughing, some were feeling the presure of the future challenges.

I asked for stories that could be used to illustrate how the department is already doing many things well and in fact do what is demanded by the customers. By doing so we clarified that the department in the future could meet customer requirements. By using a variant of Springboard Stories to sensitize employees about their potential we created Radical Springboard.

To focus on a combination of exemplary stories with future potential - Springboard Stories - and the customer's expressed expectations and needs, we created at the same time a great satisfaction and joy in their own practice (in the exemplary and forward-looking part of it) and a increased awareness and concern for customer needs, resulting in greater satisfaction and pride than before. A positive self-reinforcing process was initiated.

Participants were introduced to a practical method for knowledge sharing. “What is it that the individual does and what the others can learn from?” The method could be directly used in everyday life, in meetings, presentations etc.
By answering customers' expectations with: "We do that already," the participants acquired knowledge on their own resources. Participants gained knowledge of what the others did work on and could take this knowledge with them.

The challenge for the department in the future is to continue to see the value of a costumer based innovation.

The Radical Springboard technique have to prove that it can work in daily life. More to come!

Artikel i - storytelling for en ny generation af ledere.