Digital Storytelling Round up: Fish tales and Business Fables

Photo Credit Eric Leong

Photo Credit Eric Leong

Welcome to 2018! For you, today, we have a fresh business story idea and some excellent links.

We promise you won't see any of the sorts of vague "get more productive in 2018" posts that have flooded the internet these past few weeks.

We're going to be very practical.

You are committed to telling amazing stories for your business. We are committed to helping you.

Practice makes perfect.

Your fresh storytelling idea: Building a Business Fable

This week's idea has to be fresh because it involves fish. We'll share the story then teach you how to make your own.

The fable

There was once an inquisitive little girl who was watching her mother make their traditional family Christmas Eve dinner. As her mother prepared the fish to cook, she cut off the head and the tail before placing it in the pan. Now, being a good, curious little girl, our heroine asked her mother why she cut off the head and the tail.

The mother stopped and thought for a moment.

Then she explained it was because her mother (the little girl's grandmother) had done it that way.

The grandmother happened to be staying with them for the holidays.

Not satisfied with her mother's answer the little girl went into the front room, where her grandmother sat, all cozy in her chair with a blanket. The little girl repeated her question.

She got the same answer, well almost. Her grandmothers, mother (the little girl's great-grandmother) had done so.

The little girl's great-grandmother was alive but too old and frail to travel and visit for the holidays.

So the little girl had her mother help her make a phone call.

She got her answer.

"Because the fish was always too big for my cast iron skillet."

And there you have it. By having an inquisitive mind, you can remove assumptions and get to the root of a problem.

This story has no business people in it, but it is useful as a business fable.

"Don't do things because we have always done them that way. Question why we do things and find the best way possible."

How to make your own

You can make them on your own. In three steps

Step 1: Take the opinion, assertion, product benefit, campaign objective you are seeking to make.

Step 2: Break the idea down into its building blocks. It's essential elements.

In our fishy tale, the essential part was 'because we've always done it this way' With a little 'someone (with fresh ideas) questions the status quo.' And finally 'the someone discovers the real reason why and liberates the whole group for a new future.'

Step 3: Craft a story (this has three subparts, A, B, C)

Step 3-A: Craft a simple narrative. In this case, it was 'someone is faced with something happening in the world, they question it, pursue it and find the reason behind it, and show how things can be different.'

Step 3-B: Identify your theme: Innovation.

Step 3-C: Chose a character or three and craft a story that follows the narrative you just came up with and has an outcome that is your theme. Remember to include motivations, assumptions, a desire (in this case it was thirst for knowledge and understanding)

As you work on this consider two 'whys

Why #1 - why are the things as they seem?

Why #2 -  the deeper why that explains why things really are.

On to the links!

First up:

This calls out 'inciting incidents' as a key part of a story. And it's true. With our clients and as we covered in the Turn Case Studies into Money Making Machines is the Why -> What -> How flow. The 'why' includes the 'why did we change what we were doing.' People (and companies) don't change what they are doing when things are going well (when maybe they should, or at least plan for change in the future). Normally it's something impacting the business (such as a new product, an increase in competition, expansion into new markets, drop in sales, increase in a cost center.) This article reminds us of the importance of the inciting incident. Necessary in case-studies and quite frankly any [business] storytelling.

Secondly, we have:

A reminder that all this business storytelling comes to life somewhere. In the article look for where Shane talks about quality and strategy. Both of which can be informed and supported by stories. A good content marketing strategy (and its output, content) need a good foundation. A good foundation needs a strong value proposition, positioning framework, AND a brand narrative. The brand narrative is the filter for you to select great stories to tell that all accrue to your brand promise. They also inspire and divining rod for the stories to surface in your content marketing efforts.

And last but, not least:

Bring your business fable to life as a business leader to inspire the troops. Much like we talked about in The Problem with Great Leaders post, Mark covers how great leaders can go even further to lead and build a champion team using storytelling as a performance enhancer. He recounts a story where [business] people were brought to tears hearing a motivational story. There is no greater power in the world than being able to affect and move other people. For many reasons but not least of which if you can inspire and move them to act you can lead them to act and if you can lead people to act you can change the world.