Category: Leadership

Creating a movement and change resilient culture through storytelling

Virtual event – Monday 22nd April

4-4:45pm BST (11-11:45am EDT, 8-8:45am PDT)

In the recent Accenture research report ‘Reinvention in the age of generative AI’, the Life Sciences industry was identified as second only to Software and Platforms for an increase in the number of organisations building a culture for continuous reinvention – with 20% of the industry taking an early lead and advantage of the forecast revenue growth gap.

With constant transformation becoming BAU, we need to inspire and engage organisational talent to continuously adapt, adopting new skills and behaviours in support of the organisational strategy.

In this webinar we’re joined by Aimee Christian, VP Global Head Corporate Communications and Engagement at Jazz Pharmaceuticals, who has partnered with The Storytellers, part of Accenture, to deliver strategy engagement, culture change and transformation with four major organisations.

We will explore how to leverage the power of storytelling in strategic communications and activation programmes  – creating a resilient movement to drive change throughout an organisation.  Aimee draws on significant experience leading engagement and communications in Pharma and Life Sciences organisations such as Sanofi and Amgen, and will also be joined by Robert Tennant, Director Client Strategy, and Kirsty Spencer, Head of Strategic Communications at The Storytellers, part of Accenture.

In this session we will explore:

  • Insights into the psychological impact of change and transformation and the role narrative plays in creating a powerful movement of change
  • Successful activation, strategic communications and engagement strategies, particularly in global, highly matrixed and regulated industries such as Life Sciences
  • Skills that can help you as a leader to inspire and influence key stakeholders and your team
Please register your interest to attend this event using the form on this page.

Activating the power of human connection behind your EVP investments

Virtual workshop – Thursday 1st Feb 2024

2pm-3:30pm GMT

(9am-10:30am ET, 8am-9:30am CT)

Organisations continue to struggle to attract and retain the talent needed to deliver on their strategy whilst facing into new culture challenges created by hybrid working, and risks to productivity because of rapid transformation and uncertainty. During this workshop with HR leaders, we will explore how activating a people-centric EVP turns it into a critical tool to tackle these issues.

Developing a compelling employee value proposition with stand-out from other organisations – meeting the needs of individual employees and the overall organisational vision – is a significant investment that goes well beyond material and short-term benefits. How you bring your EVP story to life can make a huge difference to the overall value people connect with, and the commitment they make in return.

What you’ll experience

  • Explore how EVP can be a powerful thread throughout an employee’s lifecycle – from talent attraction, to cultural fit and performance, and career development
  • Understand how to leverage EVP to tackle talent strategy, hybrid working and productivity challenges
  • Gain practical insight into storytelling methods that create clarity and emotional connection, helping people understand and believe in the differentiated value of your EVP

Who should attend?

Senior HR leaders from large complex organisations who are interested in how to amplify the human connection to your EVP. Join us for an interactive story-driven session with a select cohort of your peers, delivered by experts with years of experience working with C-suites of Fortune 500 and FTSE 250 organisations.

Please register your interest to attend this event using the form on this page.

What makes a great story: #3 A call to action

No story is complete without a call to action, where the protagonist is compelled to take action, to set out on a journey to resolve a challenge or change a particular situation. This response is the catalyst for change, for resolution, for transformation. Without it, our hero (ourselves, in a business story) cannot find the meaning or purpose which we humans crave. Life would just drift on, the status quo unchanged. Quite boring really. Nothing to see here.

Look at what Sir David Attenborough has achieved. His meta story – his emotive, urgent call to change our behaviours to save the planet – has sparked a phenomenal response where we have been compelled to take action, putting pressure too on big business and governments to do the same. Whether recycling, moving to electric cars, planting wild flowers and trees or picking up litter, these small actions help us to feel that we are playing our part in tackling an existential threat, however small that part might feel. They bring us meaning and purpose in a worldwide movement of intent to make the world a safer, better place for generations to come. There is still a massive urgency, and obviously much, much more to do (don’t get me started on the issue of net zero goals), but chapeau to Sir David who has done so much to bring us awareness and a sense of duty to do our bit.

In business, a great strategic narrative has the same call to action – an honest, credible and transparent plea for active engagement and support, which is rooted in reality and links both the challenge the organisation is facing, what we need to do differently or better, and what success will look like if we meet and overcome that challenge together. Conversely, a poor internal narrative is one which simply talks about our strengths, our purpose, what we do for our customers and what a great place it is to work: a rosy picture of success that won’t make anyone feel uncomfortable enough to get out of their seat to do something different.

People need to feel valued – that they are playing their part in a bigger story of change and transformation. Leaders need to initiate conversations where their teams can proactively come up with ideas for different or better ways of working, that they are playing out their heroism rather than being victims of change. A rallying cry, a call to arms – that sense of being part of a movement that will bring a greater good – is tremendously motivating. It’s what engages and energises us, and brings us meaning, purpose and a sense of belonging. Together we can overcome the threat and conquer the world. Well, make a start, anyway.

What makes a great story: #2 Being part of something bigger than ourselves

My last post on what makes a great story talked about the need for an element of struggle and endeavour. The next critical success factor focuses on the human need to feel part of something bigger than ourselves.

Humans are social, tribal beings. Being a member of a club, sports team, religion, political party, or supporting a movement of any kind not only helps define and reinforce our identity and sense of belonging, but gives us a purpose – something we can contribute to along with others for a greater good.

We often use the ‘NASA’ story as an example. The story goes that J F Kennedy was visiting NASA, and asked a cleaner what he did there. “I’m here to help put a man on the moon” was the answer. He clearly believed that the part he played in achieving the bigger mission was important, albeit small. Similarly, an Olympic athlete is part of a team who, behind the scenes, all contribute to his or her success – and that team plays a bigger, patriotic role in the wider Olympic movement.

In business, we work in teams, where everyone needs to feel that they play a part in a collective effort to realise an organisation’s mission and vision. They need to feel valued – that they matter, that they belong, that what they do counts. They need to feel that they’re heroes, however small the part they play. Through team dialogue, listening and encouraging ideas for new and better ways of working, leaders can and must nurture this feeling of belonging, personal contribution and ownership.

Your strategic or change narrative should act as a framework within which people can play out their small acts of heroism. And telling stories of success and achievement which clearly link back to the narrative will reinforce progress, build belief and encourage others to follow. With a clear call to arms, your strategic narrative will sit at the heart of this movement of change – a symbol of hope, ambition and commitment to a brighter future.

Who wouldn’t want to be part of that?

Creating a movement of change – activating transformation

Virtual workshop – Tuesday 5th December 2023

2pm-3:30pm GMT

(9am-10:30am ET, 8am-9:30am CT)

We are hosting a workshop designed exclusively for senior leaders of large, complex organisations responsible for driving change and significant transformations.

In our current environment, new transformational strategies typically need to be implemented every 18-24 months compared to around every 5 years in recent times. For employees, the reality of constant change can result in a state of fear, confusion, cynicism and apathy, in stark contrast to the behaviours that are needed; innovation, agility, resilience and adaptability.

Yet people and culture are often an aspect of transformation that is deprioritised or value-engineered out of investment, considered a nice to have or too hard to tackle and measure. Not having a specific approach to activate people to deliver the transformation results in slow alignment and adoption, reduction in productivity and the risk of missing critical milestones and failing to realise the value of the transformation investment.

In this session we will explore how to overcome common pain points associated with people, culture and behaviour change.

What you’ll experience

  • Gain critical insights into the psychological impact of change and transformation
  • Understand the role narrative plays in creating a powerful movement of change, and the framework you can use within your organisation to activate people behind your strategy
  • Develop skills that can help you as a leader to inspire and influence key stakeholders and your team

Who should attend?

Senior leaders from large complex organisations who are interested in how you can activate people to accelerate change and create organisational resilience during significant transformation. Join us for an interactive story-driven session with a select cohort of your peers, delivered by experts with years of experience working with C-suites of Fortune 500 and FTSE 250 organisations.

This event has closed for registration. Please sign-up to our newsletter at the bottom of the page or follow us on LinkedIn for news of future events.

Getting everyone on the same page

Transformation pain point no. 25 

I’ve been involved with enough complex transformation projects to know that leading these in large organisations comes with a unique set of challenges. One of the most common hurdles that we as transformation leaders often encounter is the daunting task of getting everyone on the same page.  Especially across large diverse teams, widely distributed in various locations and departments, with an executive team with different priorities, and an employee base that is already change fatigued. Presenting a united leadership that champions the vision and strategy for the project is a critical initial step for success, but easier said than done. 

What can make it so painful? 

  • Interpretation causing lack of clarity: Different departments might interpret the transformation goals differently, leading to misalignment and confusion. 
  • Communication gaps: Ineffective communication channels can result in key stakeholders being unaware of the bigger picture, leading to resistance and disengagement. 
  • Personal priorities: Team members might prioritise their departmental objectives over the broader transformational goals, hindering overall progress. 

Storytelling as the solution 

Storytelling is a powerful tool to bridge the gap and align diverse perspectives towards a common goal. Through the process of co-creating a compelling narrative with key stakeholders and leaders, rapid alignment and buy-in are established.   

With a compelling story highlighting the significance of the transformation, a united leadership can effectively communicate the ‘why’ behind the changes and instil a shared sense of purpose among all teams.  

Identifying ‘quick wins’ and sharing early success stories builds belief and momentum for others to adopt the change behaviours needed – and critically help activate teams to meet core project KPIs at each stage of the project. 

Through consistent and engaging storytelling to share the vision, and recognise individuals and teams’ contributions to the project delivery and successes, you can establish a coherent narrative that resonates with employees at all levels, fostering a sense of unity and commitment towards the transformation journey. That’s one of many transformation pain points tackled! 

What makes a great story: #1 Struggle and endeavour

We’re often asked why a good strategic or change narrative can be so compelling, why its cut-through can be so dramatic and fast, and how it can shift mindsets and inspire belief and confidence in the future. What, for example, compelled employees at two companies we have partnered with, to retract their resignations once they’d heard their internal narrative? What was it about the story we crafted for a major building society that prompted a frontline IT employee to say “this story has been life-changing”?

A good story, like any Hollywood movie, involves an element of struggle and endeavour. Our flawed hero(es) (in the business world, employees) need a challenge to overcome. They need to collectively set out on a journey to resolve that challenge and, in doing so, transform. But the threat that lurks needs to be real and ever-present – it makes the story authentic, and gives us a reason to come together in response to a call to arms.

It’s no good creating a story that merely paints a rosy picture of the company and its future. That’s simply PR spin, lacking in credibility, authenticity and a recognition of what needs to change – and what we need to do to respond. It’s threat of what MIGHT happen, if we don’t take action, which triggers the ‘fight or flight’ response, releasing hormones which create empathy and trust as we will our hero to succeed against the odds. Remember that rickety old boat in the movie JAWS, where Quint, Brody and Hooper set out to find the man-eating shark, complete with duh-duh-duh-duh music signalling a potential imminent attack to heighten the threat? Remember that feeling of tension? Great storytelling, even if the shark wasn’t particularly believable!.

Leaders can inspire trust and followship in their teams using the same storytelling techniques, especially if their personal leadership story has an element of struggle and endeavour (humility is a strength, not a weakness). It can create a powerful, visceral response. If you’re not championing storytelling as a leader, you may be missing a trick.

Reimagining Leadership

Virtual introductory masterclass – Thursday 2nd November 2023

2pm-3:30pm GMT

(10am-11:30am ET,9am-10:30am CT)

We are hosting a storytelling masterclass designed exclusively for senior leaders of large, complex organisations.

In today’s dynamic business landscape, there are ever-increasing demands to innovate, increase productivity and accelerate or pivot your strategy.  Faced with these challenges, developing the influence and impact you need as a leader is key. It is not enough for your teams to simply understand your strategy, you need to inspire them to act, whilst building the resilience for continuous change. Storytelling is recognised as a critical tool for leaders to connect people to their vision, motivate them to embrace change and transformation and put in the discretionary effort needed to activate strategy.

What you’ll experience

This masterclass will introduce you to the storytelling methodology and techniques we have successfully used to support over 200 leadership teams around the world. Focusing on the development of leadership storytelling skills, we’ll also provide guidance on utilising a story-driven approach to accelerate strategy and transformation.

The art and science of storytelling: Understand the psychology and neuroscience behind storytelling and the benefits it brings to business and leadership.

Key components of a business storytelling framework: Discover how to put storytelling to practical use to help you navigate through challenging times and inspire your team during change and transformation.

Crafting your leadership narrative and storytelling techniques: Learn how to create a compelling narrative that reflects your values, vision, and mission, develop storytelling techniques to captivate your audience and convey complex ideas and strategies with clarity and impact.

Who should attend?

Senior leaders from large complex organisations who are looking to unlock the power of storytelling and become a more influential and impactful leader. Join us for an interactive storytelling session with a select cohort of your peers, delivered by experts with years of experience working with C-suites of Fortune 500 and FTSE 250 organisations.

This event has closed for registration. Please sign-up to our newsletter at the bottom of the page or follow us on LinkedIn for news of future events.

Inspirational leadership storytelling techniques Steve Jobs built Apple’s success on

Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple Inc., was not just a visionary in the world of technology; he was also a masterful storyteller. His ability to weave compelling narratives played a pivotal role in inspiring and motivating the people at Apple. Through a combination of captivating speeches, product launches, and a deep understanding of human psychology, Jobs harnessed the power of storytelling to create a company culture that drove innovation and excellence.

A compelling origin story

Apple’s story began in a garage, where Jobs and Steve Wozniak built their first computer. Jobs knew that every great business needed a compelling origin story, and he often shared this humble beginning with employees. He used this narrative to instil a sense of purpose and determination in his workforce, reminding them that Apple was not just a technology company but a symbol of innovation and rebellion against the status quo.

Creating a vision for the future

Jobs had an uncanny ability to paint a vivid picture of the future. He used storytelling to create a compelling vision for Apple, one where technology seamlessly integrated into our lives, transforming the way we work and play. His famous “1984” commercial for the Macintosh is a prime example of his visionary storytelling. By showing an Orwellian dystopia shattered by the introduction of the Macintosh, he not only introduced a product but also a vision of empowerment and freedom.

Making it relatable

Steve Jobs understood that technology could be intimidating. To bridge the gap between complex technology and everyday users, he employed storytelling. During product launches, he would often share anecdotes and real-life scenarios where Apple’s products could improve people’s lives. He made technology relatable by telling stories about how his own experiences shaped his vision for Apple’s products. And this technique continues in Apple’s product launches, with very emotive human stories being used at the start of the latest product event.

Building emotional connections

Jobs realised that people don’t just buy products; they buy into stories and emotions. He was a master at building emotional connections with both employees and customers. When he returned to Apple in 1997, he delivered a speech where he said, “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.” This narrative of challenging the status quo and making a difference resonated deeply with employees, motivating them to push boundaries and achieve greatness.

Resilience through narrative

Apple faced its share of setbacks and failures over the years, but Jobs used these moments to reinforce the narrative of resilience and determination. When he returned to Apple, he often referred to the company’s near-collapse as a valuable learning experience, emphasising the importance of staying true to Apple’s core values.

Inspiring innovation

One of Jobs’ greatest storytelling talents was his ability to inspire innovation. He encouraged employees to think differently and embrace a mindset of innovation. He once said, “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” This narrative encouraged Apple’s workforce to constantly seek new ideas and approaches, driving the company’s continued success.

Steve Jobs was not just a tech visionary; he was a master storyteller who used narratives to inspire, motivate, and shape the culture at Apple. He understood that stories have the power to connect people to a shared vision, to make technology relatable, and to foster a culture of innovation. Jobs’ legacy at Apple continues to live on through the company’s dedication to storytelling, a testament to the enduring power of narrative in inspiring employees and a devoted customer base and driving success.