In a recent webinar for the Learning and Performance Institute on storytelling I shared two ways in which learning and development professionals can use stories for impact.

They are:

  1. To help identify tacit knowledge – the stuff people know, especially around how to do their job and market knowledge and expertise, and which is incredibly valuable for organisations to be effective.
  2. To measure those things in the business that are incredibly difficult to measure. You may well buy into the idea you have to try stuff and fail to learn but what use is that if you do not share what has failed, and conversely, what has worked and does work?

Stories are the channel through which organisations can start to understand themselves – who they have working for them, what they know and what is and what isn’t working. That’s how stories can create impact. And over time these stories will feed into the narrative of the organisation – who it is and the journey it is on. If it sounds fanciful, it isn’t.

If I asked you to give me a short history of your company, how it has developed and what it has learned on the way, where would you go to find out? If you don’t have those stories you will have to do a lot of digging around. And without those stories how do you know if you haven’t already made the same mistakes? Or worse still, forgotten the successes you have had and what made those successes.

Organisations are people and stories can also benefit colleagues at a personal/professional level. It is, after all, how humans make sense of the world.

This week I was fortunate to attend a workshop run by Sally Spinks, head of organisational design at the IDEO design agency. IDEO is famous for its design thinking methodology which is based on the prototyping of ideas based on user research and insights. Spinks started her talk with this quote on the power of stories by cognitive scientist Roger Shank:

Humans are not ideally set up to understand logic, they are ideally set up to understand stories.

Spinks also showed how stories are used for impact in the design thinking process. Small changes, big stories is the rallying cry for IDEO (see slide below). That’s how you engage people through change and engage them with new ideas/products/ways of doing things.


So where to start when it comes to telling your story? I started the webinar by inviting participants to look at their LinkedIn profile. It’s a good place to start exploring the story you are sharing with others. What is your professional summary and headline saying about you?

Below is a list of some of the resources and slides from the webinar.

Storytelling for impact from Martin Couzins
Also worth a look . . .
Dan Pink on pitching your story . . .

And a must watch film on the impact of stories on the human brain . . .

And finally, writers share their thoughts on what makes a great story . . .