Insight article

Storytelling in business: we’ve been reminiscing

We’ve been reminiscing today in the office. It’s 13 years since we founded The Storytellers, and what a journey it’s been so far.

Way back then we were pretty much lone rangers in storytelling and strategic narrative in business, having invented a tangible, proprietary methodology and rigorous process that uses storytelling to effect organisational change. Pioneering what could have been perceived at the time as a risky approach has taken nerve, hard work and a cast-iron conviction that this was a great idea. At the beginning, four of us had come up with the idea of creating an innovative product and process with storytelling at its heart and developed it round a kitchen table. We had no clients and no track record using this particular approach. It was a bit nerve-racking, to be honest. We all had families to support and mortgages to pay. The task of building a client base, a team that shared our vision, trying and testing our methodology, gaining a deep understanding of the neuroscience of it all (how and why storytelling can break down resistance to change) and actually make a living from all of this seemed like a tall order.

Yet it was different and new. Organisations were (and still are) going through unprecedented change, so the need was – and still is – there. What we hadn’t expected was the number of businesses that signed up to our approach and the newly coined phrase ‘rational and emotional connection’ almost immediately, with remarkable results. Since then we’ve honed, fine-tuned, tweaked and polished our programme, continually learning, innovating all the time and constantly looking for new creative concepts to keep our offer fresh and exciting. And we’ve worked with over 160 amazing, fantastic clients of every size, shape and in almost every industry sector, all over the world.

Today storytelling in business is part of business vernacular. The term ‘strategic narrative’ has been adopted by many, and business leaders have rightly recognised it as an essential skill for leadership, engagement and change.

No-one will ever be able to claim storytelling is theirs. After all, it’s been around for millions of years. But our reminiscing today took us to a place where we agreed that to be successful as entrepreneurs, you have to come up with something original that has a point of difference and believe in it. Really believe in it. You’ll have high points and low points on that journey. Others may well jump on your bandwagon and even try to steal your ideas (not so original). So you need to think of smart ways to keep ahead of the game. Creating a vision and working really hard to achieve it through thick and thin is the only way to succeed. As they say, the only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.

Thank you to everyone who’s supported us on our journey so far. We are truly grateful and still raise an eyebrow or two when we look back over the last decade! Today marks a new chapter in our journey. Watch this space!

Nailia Tasseel