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The Leader's Guide to Storytelling: Mastering the Art and Discipline of Business Narrative

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In his best-selling book, Squirrel Inc., former World Bank executive and master storyteller Stephen Denning used a tale to show why storytelling is a critical skill for leaders. Now, in this hands-on guide, Denning explains how you can learn to tell the right story at the right time. Whoever you are in the organization CEO, middle management, or someone on the front lines In his best-selling book, Squirrel Inc., former World Bank executive and master storyteller Stephen Denning used a tale to show why storytelling is a critical skill for leaders. Now, in this hands-on guide, Denning explains how you can learn to tell the right story at the right time. Whoever you are in the organization CEO, middle management, or someone on the front lines you can lead by using stories to effect change. Filled with myriad examples, A Leader's Guide to Storytelling shows how storytelling is one of the few available ways to handle the principal and most difficult challenges of leadership: sparking action, getting people to work together, and leading people into the future. The right kind of story at the right time, can make an organization "stunningly vulnerable" to a new idea.


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In his best-selling book, Squirrel Inc., former World Bank executive and master storyteller Stephen Denning used a tale to show why storytelling is a critical skill for leaders. Now, in this hands-on guide, Denning explains how you can learn to tell the right story at the right time. Whoever you are in the organization CEO, middle management, or someone on the front lines In his best-selling book, Squirrel Inc., former World Bank executive and master storyteller Stephen Denning used a tale to show why storytelling is a critical skill for leaders. Now, in this hands-on guide, Denning explains how you can learn to tell the right story at the right time. Whoever you are in the organization CEO, middle management, or someone on the front lines you can lead by using stories to effect change. Filled with myriad examples, A Leader's Guide to Storytelling shows how storytelling is one of the few available ways to handle the principal and most difficult challenges of leadership: sparking action, getting people to work together, and leading people into the future. The right kind of story at the right time, can make an organization "stunningly vulnerable" to a new idea.

30 review for The Leader's Guide to Storytelling: Mastering the Art and Discipline of Business Narrative

  1. 4 out of 5

    Frank Calberg

    Some interesting extracts from the book: What is the purpose of stories: - End of preface: Stories generate meaning. They embody our values. They give us the clues from which we can discover what ultimately matters. - Page 10: Stories supplement analytical thinking by enabling us to imagine new perspectives. Storytelling is ideally suited to communicate change and stimulate innovation. - Page 37: Studies show that information is more quickly and accurately remembered when it is first presented in t Some interesting extracts from the book: What is the purpose of stories: - End of preface: Stories generate meaning. They embody our values. They give us the clues from which we can discover what ultimately matters. - Page 10: Stories supplement analytical thinking by enabling us to imagine new perspectives. Storytelling is ideally suited to communicate change and stimulate innovation. - Page 37: Studies show that information is more quickly and accurately remembered when it is first presented in the form of an example or story. - Page 287: Modern management has fallen in love with a demonized version of Apollo. We have got the order, but in estalishing order, we have lost music and beauty. An elegant story can bring back beauty in our work lives. How are stories structured? - Page 20: Aristotle said more than 2,000 years ago that a story should have a beginning, a middle and an end, and that the storyteller should be engaged with the story. - Page 81 and 241: Negative stories get people's attention. They can play a role as a burning platform. They can shake people out of their complacency and force them to think of alternatives. Action comes from positive stories that show the way forward. Use the negative story, for example a problem people in the audience have, to explain to people that the situation is grim. Then follow up with the positive story that shows how to solve the problem. Then use neutral stories to explain what, when, why, and how. - Page 103: The telling of an experience of pain and difficulty can be lightened by a touch of humor. By referring to painful events in a humorous way, you demonstrate that you have mastered the experience and taken control of it. What do you include in your story? - Page 34: There is no single right way to tell a story. - Page 44: Stories need to be focused, simple, and clear. - Page 64-65: Using a concrete example, through which you can explain where the change idea has already happened, is powerful. - Page 67: Communicating the date and place signals to listeners / readers that it is a true story. Also, an individual person needs to be a key part of the story. The author writes the following example: "In September 2009, a software developer in Denmark..." - Page 100: The turning points in life are a fruitful source of stories. These are moments of disruption when some incident gives us a glimpse of the regions of deeper feeling. Page 146: Examples of topics that can be used to prompt stories that reveal values: - Your best day at work. - Your worst day at work. - Times when two values conflicted. - Page 177 and 212: Southwest Airlines tell stories that express a culture that puts value on fun and friendliness. The airline also encourages people working for the company to weave their personal stories into the airline story. A steward told passengers on a flight why his name is Bingo: My parents desperately wanted a boy. Their first 4 children were all girls. When I came along, they shouted "bingo." How do you end a story? - Page 141: To end a personal story, try, for example "What I learned from this experience.." and/or "How this experience influenced the way I make decisions is...."

  2. 4 out of 5

    André Gomes

    I have built some slides about it as a book review: http://www.slideshare.net/andrefaria/... I have built some slides about it as a book review: http://www.slideshare.net/andrefaria/...

  3. 5 out of 5

    kartik narayanan

    Introduction Storytelling is a powerful means of communication within organizations. This is the premise of the "Leader's Guide to Storytelling". Stephen Denning has crafted this book on the following hypotheses. Organizations tend to favor the quantitative & analytical. While this approach favors the reasoning part of our minds, it is poor at changing our emotions. Storytelling make communication by mixing the analytical and the emotional. Storytelling, in this context, deals with working in prof Introduction Storytelling is a powerful means of communication within organizations. This is the premise of the "Leader's Guide to Storytelling". Stephen Denning has crafted this book on the following hypotheses. Organizations tend to favor the quantitative & analytical. While this approach favors the reasoning part of our minds, it is poor at changing our emotions. Storytelling make communication by mixing the analytical and the emotional. Storytelling, in this context, deals with working in professional organizations. The author, Stephen Denning, is a person who has written a few books on story-telling. I happened to read this book as part of a "Leadership Development" program in my organization. The "Leader's Guide to Storytelling has three parts. It starts off with an introduction to storytelling. Then, there are chapters devoted to various narrative patterns. The book ends by linking the storytelling virtues with innovation & effective leadership. The author talks about storytelling in the short video linked below. http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/TEDxHo... Recommendation The ideas presented in "Leader's Guide to Storytelling" are novel and thought provoking. The book is let down , ironically, by the mediocre communication of its core ideas. In the end, I felt that reading this book was a chore and I had to force myself to read it in chunks. Very few books can claim to have that distinction. Hence I would warn people to be prepared for a struggle if you want to get some value from the book. Learnings Storytelling mixes the quantitative and qualitative aspects of communication. This makes it more effective than presenting facts or figures. Different purposes need different types of stories. The four key elements of effective storytelling are Style, Preparation, Truth & Delivery Style - Tell your story as if you were talking to an individual. Avoid hedges and keep your storytelling focused, simple and clear. Present the story as something valuable in itself, be yourself Truth - proceed on the basis that it is possible to tell the truth, tell the truth as you see it, Preparation - be rehearsed but spontaneous, choose the shape of your story and stick to it Delivery - Be ready to perform. Get out from behind the podium and connect with all parts of your audience. Speak in an impromptu manner, use gestures and be lively. Use visual aids judiciously. Be comfortable in your own style. Know your audience and, connect with them There are 8 narrative patterns Motivate others to action Build trust in you Build trust in your company Transmit your values Get others working together Share knowledge Tame the grapevine Create and share your vision Generally, organization issues will involve using multiple narrative patterns to solve them

  4. 4 out of 5

    David

    Put away the PowerPoint slides: Getting things done in business requires much more than hard facts and PowerPoint presentations -- it requires the ability to persuade, motivate and convince. Denning does a fantastic job demonstrating how to do this through storytelling - making your audience (your boss, teammates, customers) get involved in your idea, allowing them to put themselves into your story. Presentation slides have become a frustrating crutch -- few remember (or even trust) your numbers Put away the PowerPoint slides: Getting things done in business requires much more than hard facts and PowerPoint presentations -- it requires the ability to persuade, motivate and convince. Denning does a fantastic job demonstrating how to do this through storytelling - making your audience (your boss, teammates, customers) get involved in your idea, allowing them to put themselves into your story. Presentation slides have become a frustrating crutch -- few remember (or even trust) your numbers and unending bullet points. Put your audience inside your story - allow them to apply their own context to what you are explaining and they will start listening and participating. Good leaders persuade through what often appears to be spontaneous narrative. They build credibility and respect. This book gives you the tools to strategically target and build your narrative to accomplish specific objectives. It spends time explaining purposeful communication and storytelling methods for different situations. I thought the section on Values was a little out of place, as more of a lesson on values than as a storytelling method. This is a book I will go back and read several times as I try to put it to practical use. Highly recommended for anyone who wants to succeed in business, especially given our overload of information from every angle. It will help you to find a way to stand out and be heard.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Les Hollingsworth

    This was okay. It tried to present a cookbook type of approach to business storytelling and, on the main, I suppose it mostly achieved that goal. Where the formula breaks down will be as soon as you move out to the margins and any leader with experience will quickly recognize that the margins are where most leaders need sound guidance. So, interesting -- sure. Largely helpful to improve one's ability to lead -- not so much. This was okay. It tried to present a cookbook type of approach to business storytelling and, on the main, I suppose it mostly achieved that goal. Where the formula breaks down will be as soon as you move out to the margins and any leader with experience will quickly recognize that the margins are where most leaders need sound guidance. So, interesting -- sure. Largely helpful to improve one's ability to lead -- not so much.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kristin

    I saw this in BN. It obviously continues on my storytelling theme. We'll see what he teaches me that Annette Simmons didn't! I saw this in BN. It obviously continues on my storytelling theme. We'll see what he teaches me that Annette Simmons didn't!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mohammed AlHelaibi

    It's a good read definitely. I tell stories differently now. Rather than telling people a story of how they should do it, I inspire them to write their own. It's a good read definitely. I tell stories differently now. Rather than telling people a story of how they should do it, I inspire them to write their own.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Colin Pearce

    I am not convinced that business is really ready for narrative. I like where Denning is coming from but my experience says it's an uphill battle getting anyone to swallow the pill. I am not convinced that business is really ready for narrative. I like where Denning is coming from but my experience says it's an uphill battle getting anyone to swallow the pill.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    Took me a long time to read this, as it had a lot of good stories and theories to remember and try to put in place. I love the premise of how stories transform a leader’s ability to motivate, encourage, and drive progress. This book had so much content though that it made it hard to put into practice as it was very thorough. Probably would have liked to have read an article rather than a book, or done a workshop on it instead of a whole book. But great concepts.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ron

    "In this radically different mode of managing, the firm still has structures and processes, but the structures and processes create a space to liberate rather than stifle the talents and energies of those doing the work." Dennig has a vision. I'm very much in alignment with his vision of how businesses could look and work. Storytelling is a key tool for an effective leader. Great read. "In this radically different mode of managing, the firm still has structures and processes, but the structures and processes create a space to liberate rather than stifle the talents and energies of those doing the work." Dennig has a vision. I'm very much in alignment with his vision of how businesses could look and work. Storytelling is a key tool for an effective leader. Great read.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Louise Sullivan

    This book provides a guide on how to use storytelling as a leader. While it was groundbreaking when first published, it does stand the test of time. The focus on the benefits of storytelling to an organization are not my primary interests. How an individual creates a narrative and what he/she does with that narrative informs relationships.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Connie Collins Johnson

    Story telling is a great tool to use both in leadership and public speaking. While not a new book, Stephen Denning gives some good templates/phrasing to help you to frame your stories to your cause. Its a quick read, but worthwhile.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jack

    The best way to communicate with people you are trying to lead is very often through a story. I think this is a great complementary book after "Five Stars: The Communication Secrets to Get from Good to Great" by Carmine Gallo The best way to communicate with people you are trying to lead is very often through a story. I think this is a great complementary book after "Five Stars: The Communication Secrets to Get from Good to Great" by Carmine Gallo

  14. 5 out of 5

    Prahalathan KK

    Rambling

  15. 4 out of 5

    Natansh Dubey

    Content too lengthy and a bit out of tune. Could have been more precise, ROI was not proportionate to the time invested. Some points are good but it gets boring at times...

  16. 4 out of 5

    Hongbo Shi

    Great leaders tell stories. We learn through stories when we were kids. The small "me" like to hear stories. More interesting is from another book, sounds familiar with agile/devops. 7 principles of continuous innovation ( from book the leaders guide to radical managemnt) 1. the goal of work is delight clients 2. work is conducted in self organizing .teams 3. team operate in client driven iterations (delight client can be approached only through successive approxinations) 4. Each iteration deli Great leaders tell stories. We learn through stories when we were kids. The small "me" like to hear stories. More interesting is from another book, sounds familiar with agile/devops. 7 principles of continuous innovation ( from book the leaders guide to radical managemnt) 1. the goal of work is delight clients 2. work is conducted in self organizing .teams 3. team operate in client driven iterations (delight client can be approached only through successive approxinations) 4. Each iteration delivers value to customers ( enable frequent feedback) 5. Managers nurture radical transparency 6. managers nurture radical self-improvement 7. managers communciate interactively through stories, questions and conversations

  17. 4 out of 5

    Wm

    Very good -- almost four stars. And I totally agree with the basic concepts (although note that good business narrative flows from [and can support:] good business strategy). It just seems like there should be some more interesting stories told in the text and a broader set of examples from business as well as from the world of professional storytelling.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ronschae4

    An excellent resource for purposeful communicators! I'm looking forward to using these concepts in my own presentations and speeches. It's easy to see how great storytelling communicators (elected officials, business leaders, pastors, etc.) rise to the top of our awareness. An excellent resource for purposeful communicators! I'm looking forward to using these concepts in my own presentations and speeches. It's easy to see how great storytelling communicators (elected officials, business leaders, pastors, etc.) rise to the top of our awareness.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Stefaan Ponnet

    Mastering the art of narrative is a skill everyone should invest time in learning. For me this book contained a well structured approach to improve your story-telling skills. I apply these techniques throughout the day - both in my job and in my private life.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Bryan

    Similar to what we read in the The Storyboard Approach, but less applied. This is a good read for someone who is not already bought into the fact that stories are how humans have communicated/engaged/compelled for thousands of years.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Alan

    Read Sources of Power instead.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    I couldn't get through it in the amount of time I had with it. For a book on storytelling, it really didn't flow. I was pretty disappointed. I couldn't get through it in the amount of time I had with it. For a book on storytelling, it really didn't flow. I was pretty disappointed.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Gene

    This book was too academic and text-booky for me. I like them to be more casual in tone rather than academic. I like learning, but just not in that more formal style...

  24. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    Read APR 2007 Good resource to understand how to weave stories into the corporate setting.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Intrigued by the idea of "business narrative." Intrigued by the idea of "business narrative."

  26. 4 out of 5

    Iryna Ternova

    I took many useful advices...this book will definitely change the way I present my ideas and engage people in change process.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Paul Lanigan

    Not a bad book but it never ceases to amaze me why so few story telling books are written in narrative form.......why not talk the talk

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mohammed alkindy

    Another perspective on story telling in management setup as story lover, real story it was interest g to one how good story telling and performing it can have an impact in an organization

  29. 4 out of 5

    Anuradha Goyal

    Detailed review here http://www.anureviews.com/the-leaders... Detailed review here http://www.anureviews.com/the-leaders...

  30. 5 out of 5

    Bob Schatz

    If you're looking to engage people, as any leader should, this is an awesome book. If you're looking to engage people, as any leader should, this is an awesome book.

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