Storytelling is a fundamental part of every great brand, business or institution. Every great brand or business has a story and that story connects to the emotions, the characters, the values of the people that live that product or business every day. Storytelling is always been a part of leadership. It is just now we’re overtly talking about it as a tool that leaders can use as opposed to just an aid in our brand’s and the products that we give to people. Storytelling says it’s not about the list of things we have to do, it’s about the connection that we give to people about a piece of information that we’re trying to share. A good story at its essence is simply conveying a message that has logic.
Here are the top 5 reasons storytelling is important for modern leaders:
#1. Storytelling can inspire people to act in unfamiliar, ambiguous and often unwelcome, ways. Tedious cascades of numbers or daze-inducing PowerPoint slides won’t achieve this goal. Even logical arguments for making the needed changes usually won’t do the trick. It is effective story telling that works, if done effectively.
#2. Good storytelling can act silently on our conscious mind. When we hear a story that touches us deeply, our lives are immersed with meaning. As listeners, we have transmitted to us that which matters. Once we make this connection, once a sense of wonder has come upon us, it does not last long, and we inevitably fall back into our everyday living, but with the difference that a radical shift in understanding may have taken place.
#3. Most business leaders are honestly bored with 90% of the conversations they have in a day. They sit at meetings and have power point after power point, and they have meeting after meeting, and they have to do list after to do list. And they’re looking to be inspired. If you have a compelling story, something that is of interest, something that has a connection then people are going to listen no matter what the medium is.
#4. Storytelling is by far the best way for leaders to communicate with people they are leading. It is inherently well adapted to handling the most obstinate leadership challenges of today – igniting change, communicating who you are, enhancing the brand, transmitting values, creating high-performance teams, sharing knowledge, taming the grapevine, leading people in to the future.
#5. Last but not the least; storytelling translates dry and abstract numbers into compelling visuals of a leader’s goals. Although good business cases are developed through the use of numbers, they are typically approved on the basis of a story—that is, a narrative that links a set of events in some kind of causal sequence, something that connects with the listeners and has depth.
At the end of the day, everyone tells stories. The stories that get repeated over and over—and become a part of an organization’s or business culture and/or heritage, and these can come from the CEO, a manager, a new hire, or anyone in between. All you need is to have context, logic and connection.
Why should business goals change ?
There are changes that keep happening in all major fronts, and the key factors which FORCE change are:
1. Customer needs keep changing – technological and trends changes.
2. The speed at which these changes happen – This forces us to compete with innovative products which grab the market shares. Hence the budget for R&D has to increase.
3. Channel partners who take the product to the end users influence the sales, and makes us rethink our strategic approach to marketing , CRM, and distribution.
4. Non- availability of skilled manpower and attrition, force the organizations to have a proactive approach to HRM through appropriate performance management systems.
5. Increasing cost of raw material, labor, logistics, operational cost etc, force the organizations to work more effectively towards operational excellence.
The most effected are small or medium sized business. Hence, it is essential to have goals to succeed. With such transitions that a business encounters, a goal becomes very important in the success and growth of any business.
Most small companies plan to accommodate such changes as they know that these changes are rapid and plan to face challenges like market dynamics, expenditures towards R&D, distribution logistics, production etc., but fail in planning towards the Human Resource (HR) initiatives.
The major backlog in HR planning is the absence of the right knowledge, resources, skilled manpower for execution, and a well translated goal for every department which is linked to the vision and goals of the company.
There are several companies with goals like “We will double our sales volume in 3 years !” or “We will reach a turnover of XX millions in 2 years” etc. These companies force themselves to achieve what they had promised for themselves, which eventually damages the culture, as they were too busy developing strategies to achieve their goals. Instead, if organizations build goals relevant to the changes happening and grow a work culture to suit the same, they would see better long-term success.
Some key solutions:
• Culture in an organization is more important than a strategy – Hence develop a culture required for growth – for example when innovation is the key strength for growth, LEARNING should be prime culture of employees in R&D and production.
• Plan your human resources – If you have excess manpower, train them with new skills in their free time.
• Competition is not about doing all that your competitor does or challenges, but being vigilant that your profits are not destroyed by wrong investments in in turbulent times – hence plan to be in the market with your own USP.
Being focused on the following fronts helps the business succeed in the long-run:
1. Orientation towards the customer needs
2. Orientation towards a work culture that supports Product innovation, Market dynamics and Technical changes.
3. Orientation towards operational excellence that leads to better profits internally.
An organization with a clear goal and with an orientation for transitions accompanied by a proper mission is sure to have a journey of success.
Authored by: Nalina.R – BE, MBA – She is an HR consultant from Coimbatore, India with 16 years of experience in Recruitment, Training, Performance management systems and OD interventions.
Change is inevitable, and it is important to keep improving with change. Kaizen refers to the philosophy of continuous improvement and change for the better. Kaizen used in the business sense refers to activities that continually improve all functions of an organization, and involves all employees from the CEO to the lowest line workers.
The word Kaizen means “good change” and its main focus is the standardization of activities and process, to gradually eliminate waste and improve performance. The practice was first implemented in many Japanese businesses, after the Second World War, partly influenced by American teachers of quality management.
The five key elements of Kaizen:
– Teamwork: In a business setup, all employees should work as a team towards a common and unified goal, or a business objective.
– Discipline: It is important that all employees of an organization practice self-discipline towards managing work, time, quality and loyalty towards their company.
– Morale: All employers should be moral in their approach towards running a business and value their work force. Rewards, recognition, work benefits, medical care, bonuses etc offer security of employment and a sense of motivation.
– Sharing knowledge or quality circle: All employees or members of an organization should have the opportunity to share ideas, skills and resources on a common platform. This sharing and exchanging will encourage them to gauge their performance based on other companies Kaizen programs, which would in turn help them to improve.
– Providing Suggestions for improvement: Last but not the least, the practice of Kaizen encourages employees from all levels to provide suggestions for improvement. No matter how irrelevant the suggestions might be, they should be welcomed, appreciated and considered at all times.
TPS – Think People System (Toyota Production System Case Study):
At the Toyota Production System all employees and team members are encouraged to think about the process and make timely decisions in order to keep it running smoothly, rather than merely operating like machines. This involvement creates responsibility for the success of the process, increasing both morale and quality.
Every morning a meeting is held to discuss quality deviations and eliminate their causes. Everybody is encouraged to think and contribute ideas and suggestions. For example, at Toyota Material Handling Europe’s production sites about 3,000 proposals for improvements are made each year.