There is one conversation that I have repeatedly. (Think Groundhog’s Day with Bill Murray.) It goes like this.
“Oh, we are doing a terrible job of telling our story. There are a lot of moving parts, but if we could get the story right, the other pieces would fall in line.”
“Ok,” I say. “What part of your story isn’t being told?”
“All of it. All of it could be better.”
“But if you had to start in one spot…”
“Oh, I don’t know. That’s what I hired you for.”
The reason I have this conversation so often is that the term story has become a catch-all for messaging, marketing, and internal communication issues. Most people recognize the potential of a well-told story. They imagine all the ways it could help their business. But their problem is A) they don’t understand how a story does what it does and B) they have a difficult time articulating the issues they are facing and how those issues connect.
They are left hollering for a five-lettered silver bullet.
This is the storyteller’s advantage: the patience and the skill to identify issues by asking well-ordered questions, and tying the answers together within a story. Of course, that takes time — some issues require the equivalent a world-class diver — and cooperation from all parties involved. But the gains are substantial.
Hire a storyteller.
Hire someone who can ask great questions.
Hire someone that can use honest answers to achieve key results, not just re-lick and re-stick what they get back in a questionnaire.
Leverage the storyteller’s advantage.
Make it work for you.