Q&A with a Story Guru: Lori Silverman, Part 3

See a photo of Lori, her bio, Part 1 of this Q&A, and Part 2.

Q&A with Lori Silverman, Question 3

Q: What are some of the cautions you advise in carrying out the 5 story practices you describe?

  • how to find stories
  • how to dig into them to uncover hidden patterns and themes
  • how to select those stories that need to be reinforced
  • how to craft memorable stories
  • how to embody stories to positively affect attitudes, thoughts and behaviors.

A: Overall, there is a significant different between implementing story as a “tool” or “technique” and seeing it as a core competence for running a business that can get it significant returns on investment, especially in a recessionary economy. In order to embrace these five practices, you need to embrace the latter mindset rather than the former. Unfortunately, articles and books continue to be written on it as a tool and technique. To see the bigger picture means educating leaders on the possibilities of what can be and a broader scope of business application.

This is no different than what happened in the quality movement. In the mid-to late-’80’s, everyone wanted to learn statistical process control (SPC; today it would be Six Sigma or lean manufacturing or root cause analysis). Only when failures happened did organizations recognize there might be fuller, richer approaches to the subject that meant shifting quality to the way you do business. The challenge we have is that story has not taken off with the same fervor as quality did two decades ago so its evolution as a field has been slower. My concern is that instead of evolving, the field of story work will disappear as so many other management approaches have over the years.

Until organizations begin to implement these five practices as a holistic package, we will not have the data to truly detail best practices in these five areas. This assumes, however, that organizations are astute enough to put measurement systems in place to ascertain the value of story work usage.