6 reasons to use storytelling in innovation processes

Juan Pacheco
Nov 1 · 4 min read

Compared to other forms of communication so far, Storytelling has a number of unique advantages. Matter of fact, I am sure that are thousands of reasons out there why storytelling in innovation processes works incredibly well, and you have surely heard some of these reasons on more than one time.

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Number one, stories help build strong relationships.

Storytelling almost instantly builds trust, which is the foundation of good relationships, as you can see everything since a commercial to a sentimental relationship is trust based.

It does so by providing a personal, intimate, and perhaps vulnerable view of the world of the person who is telling the story. In the case of using storytelling in innovation processes, it allows you to be empathetic with whoever is leading the initiative about how you see the current situation of the company and where you want to take it with your vision.

Number two, storytelling talks about the part of the brain where decisions are made.

Much of the cognitive science in the last two decades tells us that human beings make subconscious, emotional, and sometimes irrational decisions in one place in the brain, and then rationally and logically justify those decisions elsewhere.

However, if you are trying to influence team and/or company decisions, using rational facts and arguments alone is not enough. You need to influence them emotionally and here’s where applying storytelling in innovation processes could be your best tool.

Number three, stories make it easier for the team to remember you, your ideas, and your vision.

We have always known that facts are easier to remember if they are embedded in a story, rather than if they are only given to the team members in a list, as if it were a checklist.

Storytelling in an innovation process should be included because it allows your interlocutors, team members and the company in general to remember what the objective is and who it was told to.

Number four, storytelling actually increases the value of the vision you are introducing.

In July 2009, journalist Rob Walker and author Josh Glenn conducted a remarkable experiment. They bought 100 ordinary items at thrift stores and yard sales, a jar of marbles, a meat thermometer, a pink toy horse, etc. Each item costs an average of $ 1 and 29 cents.

They then asked the volunteers to write short, fictitious stories about each item. Walker and Glen then listed each item for sale on eBay. But instead of putting a simple description next to the image of each item, they just put the fictitious story that was written for it.

After five months, all 100 items had been sold. They had originally paid a total of $ 128 for the items, but the resale price paid on eBay totaled $ 3,612, or a 2,800% increase in value.

In the words of Walker and Glen, their experiment showed that narrative transforms insignificant objects into meaningful ones. In other words, stories turn cheap objects into valuable ones.

Storytelling in innovation processes has the same multiplier effect since it is not about innovating because it is a guideline from senior management, but rather a story that adds value to the company.

Number five, stories are contagious.

Hold a great event to communicate that the company from today will be innovative, and see how everything stays in the room where the event was held.

However, when you tell a great story, it can travel around the world and that is the really interesting thing about storytelling because you can rarely bring all the decision makers together in one single room.

You need your message to spread by itself and this works because a typical PowerPoint presentation or internal memo is not very exciting.

Honestly, when was the last time you heard someone say, “wow, you’ll never believe the PowerPoint presentation I just saw” right? Probably never. But people say that about a good story all the time. And finally

Number six, your team and company really want more stories from you.

Forrester Research conducted a study in 2013, asking 319 executive-level buyers in North America and Europe, how often the executives who visit them are prepared in a certain way. Buyers responded:

  • 62% of the time, executives were knowledgeable about the company and the products they represented.
  • 42% of the time, they were knowledgeable about the shopper industry, but only
  • 21% of the time — the lowest in the survey — had relevant examples or case studies to share. In just few words, only one in five calls includes enough stories to satisfy the buyer expectations.
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juanpacheco

Design Thinking coach and Senior UX Designer

Juan Pacheco

Written by

LATAM BDM (Business Development Manager) @ TCS Interactive | Design Thinking coach and Senior UX Designer, NLP practitioner since 2015. **opinions are my own**

juanpacheco

As Design Thinking coach, I’m working in product and service design from the visioning up to delivery. Unlearn things is a challenge, but so far is best way to create new one experiences.

Juan Pacheco

Written by

LATAM BDM (Business Development Manager) @ TCS Interactive | Design Thinking coach and Senior UX Designer, NLP practitioner since 2015. **opinions are my own**

juanpacheco

As Design Thinking coach, I’m working in product and service design from the visioning up to delivery. Unlearn things is a challenge, but so far is best way to create new one experiences.

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