Project Management

Tell Stories to rule the Future !

From the The Future of PM Work Blog
What will the future be like for project managers? How will our teams change? Will robots displace human beings? Will we be able to have an edge in the age of AI? This blog will focus on our future of work—including current trends and future trends that we will experience in our workplace. Learn how project managers can leverage these trends to amplify value for customers, stakeholders, teams, the organization as a whole—and themselves. It’s all about proactively managing the transition to the future!

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How many times we go for a meeting and our mind wanders away?

How many times we sleep with our eyes open in a presentation crammed with numbers and texts?

How many times we yearn to reach out to our smart phone to read that important message on What’sApp while in a townhall?

The answer to all the above may be many a times. These are nothing but signs of dis-engagement. How can we combat these signs of dis-engagement? The Strategic Storytelling.

“Humans think in stories, rather than facts, numbers or equations and the simpler story.”
– Yuval Harari

It is a well-known fact that with Strategic storytelling, a project manager can create and enhance relationships with the team, customers, suppliers and partners. Not only that strategic storytelling can improve collaboration, communication and bridge knowledge gaps.

But will it be applicable in the #futureofPMWork as well? Here are the reasons why it might?

  1. Connected Projects: As projects gets more and more connected, the “Big picture” becomes very important. What other way than story telling can communicate the “Big picture” to all players in the connected ecosystem.
  2. Engagement factor: With shortened attention span of our customers and team engagement factor becomes big. A purpose story – “What is in it for me “engages them to the project.
  3. Diverse team: As our teams becomes more and more diverse, strategic storytelling helps to make connections between what is said and the team’s diverse experiences, facilitating understanding of important meanings, beliefs, and behaviours.

Why Stories stick?

  1. Whole brain at work:  Stories connect the left of the brain which is analytic to the right side – creative side of the brain. This is called neural coupling which turns the stories to the listeners own experience and learnings.
  2. Chemical reaction: Neuroscientists believe that when we listen to stories chemicals like cortisol, dopamine and oxytocin are released in the brain.  Cortisol assists in formulating memories. Dopamine, helps regulate our emotional responses, keeps us engaged. Oxytocin is associated with empathy, an important element in building, deepening or maintaining good relationships.
  3. Cortex activation: When we listen to stories rich in metaphor and expression, cortex - sensory, motor etc. are activated, which leads to a richer and a connected experience.

This is what I learned while leveraging Strategic Storytelling in my projects

  1. Story listening: Listen more. Tell less. Story listening is an excellent way to find out patterns what is working and what is not.
  2. Inclusivity: Stories should relate to the person or group who are involved in the project to connect them intrinsically or give them a purpose.
  3. Simplicity: Simple stories are easy to understand, remember and share. Keeping the complexity out of the way we can have our messages communicated effectively and make them stick.

Now that we know Strategic Storytelling may be one of those tools that a project manager may leverage in #futureofPMWork, what would be those instances where this tool may be most effective? Don’t forget to leave your views here?

Read on to know more on how I have leveraged story telling in my digital transformation projects


Photo by Nong Vang on Unsplash

Posted on: November 22, 2019 10:15 PM | Permalink

Comments (12)

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Dear prya
Interesting this your storytelling theme
Thanks for sharing

I am convinced that listening and telling stories:
- Releases the so-called "The Angel’s Cocktail": Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin and Endrofin
- It's an important key to good communication.

What I have learned over the years of my life about family, friendship, faith, nation, children, character, political principles, productivity, listening to the great teachers. What made them great masters? They were great storytellers

I worry that all PowerPoint presentations, spreadsheets, carefully prepared reports, detailed discussion forums, global teleconferences are not reaching people the way stories have hit me.

As you said, I often find myself yawning, thinking about "n" things, less about the presentation, wondering what I would be doing if I wasn't there.

Thank you Luis for your response. Stories do stick.. Like you I sit through many presentations and meetings only to find I can hardly remember the key takeaways from the same.
I think in the future with 'n' number of things going on, stories can really help in driving points home.

I would agree that stories stick better than facts and figures. Which is why project-based learning is increasingly being used in our schools as an approach to teaching children.

Great analogy and post Priya. I agree with you, stories do stick in your memories forever.

Thanks for sharing and I can't agree with you more, stories do matter a lot....

@Rami Thank you !

@Farooq: Thank you for your concurrence

@Sante :) Thanks

thanks Priya for sharing the very essence of strategic story telling. It definitely is a great way to communicate the core ideas to the stakeholders.

@Arunkumar, Thank you for your inputs

Absolutely the ART OF STORYTELLING certainly brings a value to your message, which is well structured. Thank you Priya, good elaboration on the topic.....

@Shripad, Thanks for your concurrence ! i think i will now focus on improving my story telling skills

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