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Storytelling in Organizations Paperback – August 26, 2004

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Editorial Reviews


"Storytelling In Organizations is brain food for managers who want to ascend to leadership positions. Melding four different perspectives, the authors make a compelling case to become a more relevant, powerful, and memorable communicator. By the
time you finish the book you will be thinking differently and running to a mirror to practice, practice, practice."
-- Jim Hatherley, author of 'Daring To Be Different, A Manager's Ascent To Leadership'

"Story telling is increasingly recognized as central to organizational life. This book draws on the expertise of four thought leaders in this area to help us all understand the role of narative and ways that we can best leverage stories in our own organizations. It is a must read for those looking for more effective approaches to knowledge sharing and transfer, large-scale change, employee socialization and leadership."
-- Rob Cross, Assistant Professor of Management at the University of Virginia and Author of The Hidden Power of Social Networks: Understanding How Work Really Gets Done in Organizations

"The authors weave a fascinating tale, one that took place at the Smithsonian and resulted in the unexpected- the lawyer, the film director,
the scientist, and the historian all agreeing on the power of narrative and storytelling to compel people, as well as the organizations they manage, to
change. I would highly recommend this to anyone dealing with the issue of organizational change."
-- Bruno Laporte, Manager, Knowledge and Learning, The Worldbank

"At the heart of Product Development are our consumers' stories of unmet needs and desires. In R&D, we utilize these stories to inspire breakthrough technical innovations and delightful new products that resonate with our consumers in their journeys toward "happily ever after." This book provides wonderful tools to spark and leverage storytelling functionally and organizational to create collaborative work environments and authentic
visions of what's possible."
-- Dr Jamesina A. Fitzgerald, VP Global Oral Care Manager & Scientist, Procter & Gamble

"Storytelling is the single most effective way to communicate a change in an organization. Through stories, people visualize events, understand concepts and engage both their hearts and minds. Vision and mission statements people read, walk out of a room, and two days later cannot remember. But tell them a story and they will not only remember, they will repeat it."
-- Stacy McCarthy, Director, Marketing and Strategy and Customer Communications, The Boeing Company

"In a world where all aspects of life are more integrated than ever a leaders' ability to connect with people is more critical than ever. We can no longer solely rely on connectedness through geography, culture or country, The sort of "automatic" connecting we were spoiled with. There are simply too many choices, too much change and too many ways of going your own way to blindly just do what you are told. Rather leadership today must connect with the deeper meaning that exists in every human soul. Storytelling in general and the authors in this book in particular, offers inspiring insights into the art and rewards of telling a story."
-- Mats Lederhausen, Managing Director, McDonald's Ventures, McDonald's Corporation President Business Development

"...lays out for the first time why narrative and storytelling should be part of the mainstream of organizational and management thinking."
- Journal for Quality & Participation

Book Description

Learn the power of storytelling for organizational success explained by master storytellers

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (July 19, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0750678208
  • ISBN-13: 978-0750678209
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,226,018 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Greig's Brother on November 30, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read with keen interest and anticipation "Storytelling in Organizations", by Brown, et. al. By profession, I coach an organization in a fortune 100 firm in how to create and deliver stories. I concur that telling stories in the organization is extremely effective in educating and persuading teams to improve products and services, and for my company, that has translated to literally millions of dollars in savings, improved product usability and service delivery, margin preservation, and increased market share.

Though the book is written by professionals and academicians, they only do a fair job of telling the story and describing "what" storytelling is and to some extent "why" it works. It is ineffectual in teaching the most important lesson--the "how" to tell a story.

Regretfully, only one author's work is effective, and it is a shame his strength is watered down by the mediocrity of the others. The result is that this book represents a lost opportunity to impart meaningful, actionable knowledge sharing.

Two reasons account for the failure. First, no clear-cut model is presented. This hinders the would-be story teller in that there is no repeatable roadmap to follow in structuring a story, thereby making storytelling practice and critique difficult. Second, the book itself is a poor example of story telling.

The reader is severely distracted by the disparate writing styles and sometimes overlapping content of the authors, the not-so-occasional editorializing and a peppering of poorly written case studies that lack the very punch that the authors are suggesting is the power of the story. I found myself asking, "what's the point" a number of times.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Karl on January 3, 2006
Format: Paperback
Sad to say, I to agree with the previous reviewer - this book is a real disappointment.

Of course the title is incredibly vague, and is in one sense entirely true even if the authors merely mention both storytelling and organizations in passing. They don't - in order to justify this title - have to tell us anything at all ABOUT storytelling or organizations. Though having said that, I suspect that the title will lead most people to EXPECT to learn something about the use of storytelling in organisations, the what, the when, the why and the how.

Unfortunately, as the previous reviewer comments, only one of the four authors comes anywhere near meeting these expectations.

The book, which comes in at just under 200 pages - just under 180 if you ignore the index, the potted biographies and the "Further Reading" list - is divided into just six chapters.

Chapter 1 consists of 4 descriptions of "How I came to Storytelling" - one by each author.

Chapters 2-5 inclusive are each allocated to a different author and consist, as far as I can tell, of (a) the transcript of the person's presentation at a conference on storytelling held in 2001, followed by the author's "reflections" approximately four years later.

Chapter 6 is a "wrap up" chapter by Steve Denning on "The Role of Narrative in Organizations."

First problem - the way someone talks in a presentation should be quite different from the way they write the same information. Apart from anything else, repetition is useful and necessary in a presentation - it can be boring and frustrating in a written text. And that is certainly the case throughout most of this book.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Emmanuel Palermo on December 9, 2007
Format: Paperback
The word storytelling evokes soft, touchy-feely emotions about family, friends, and yesteryear. What do any of these things have to do with organizations? If you allow yourself to get past the title you'll find that storytelling has a lot to do with how things get done in organizations, big and small. The authors will convince you that stories have been underutilized tools for organizational development and behavior change, but the growth and interest in storytelling is expanding dramatically, and the benefits can be quite dramatic. These are the types of people who know organizations and big business. Represented in the quartet of authors are former leaders at Xerox, The World Bank, IBM, and New World Entertainment. John Seely Brown, Stephen Denning, Katalina Groh, and Laurence Prusak are all heavyweights in their own spheres and perhaps the leading advocates on the storytelling in organizations. These are business leaders, not academics selling the idea of storytelling. The examples from and the relevance to business are what make "Storytelling in Organizations: Why Storytelling is Transforming 21st Century Organizations and Management" a book you're compelled to not only read, but use. While there are more than just business examples in the book, people will be most impressed how some of the largest enterprises run on something that seems so trivial: stories. "Storytelling" describes the history, impediments, successes, and the very human nature of this art. The book is so wide in scope of information and has such a strong impact on both a cognitive and emotional level, it was difficult to find much negative in it. However, this is not a perfect read. For example, some of the ideas and concepts developed and associations made in the book are difficult to agree with.Read more ›
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