Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Power of Story

While powerpoint may be one of the main tools of MBAs and business schools, I have maintained a distinct dislike of the program and how it's ruined the natural human ability of story telling. Executives and consultants hide behind them. It's not a well-designed program, lack any kind of intuitive functionality, and for the most part provides a canvas for a lot of data, though no information.

I recently read a Harvard Business Review article about storytelling. Bronwyn Fryer interviewed screenwriting coach Robert McKee. McKee's students have written, directed, and produced legions of popular movies such as Forest Gump and Monty Python. He is the basis for the main character of the movie Adaptation.

The article written my Fryer is both moving and insightful. While many leaders in business are intelligent and dilligent, they often lack the emotion, empathy, and concern to truly connect to those who work in their organizations and their customers. This is a problem that business schools and corporations should see as a crisis. Numbers and information are clouding our ability to interpret what we see and create meaningful solutions to today's business woes. Is it any wonder we are heading for recession.

Corporate employees and customers need to be inspired, and they need to feel cared for and appreciated. As business people, we need to "get" our customers. And this takes far more than data and gant charts. It takes an ability and desire to truly walk in someone else's shoes and live their lives. It requires a strong curiosity, a willingness to not only hear but listen to the concerns of others, and most importantly a craving for connection and simplicity.

Powerpoint can't get us there. Storytelling can.

The images above can be found at

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