Business Leaders as the Authors of the Future

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Actionable story knowledge is already shaping the future of business and on September 26, 2014 famed storytelling consultant Robert McKee will bring his STORY-in-BUSINESS Seminar to New York City.

On September 26, 2014 famed storytelling consultant Robert McKee will bring his STORY-in-BUSINESS Seminar to New York City. Be sure to register soon to join the ranks of those that already understand the critical difference that story will make in the business world from here forth.

Lou Gerstner, who led the IBM out of the wilderness, said, “IBM tells Wall Street stories about IBM’s future because facts about the future do not exist.” In June 2013, Peter Löscher, the CEO of Siemens, was fired because, as the German press put it, “Peter had no story.” Imagining corporate life like an author of a story actually makes decisions all the more logical, all the more insightful.

What sets competitors apart today is not the scientific skills of dueling algorithms, but the aesthetic talents of storytelling: imagination, insight and creativity. With enough data, any executive can read across-section of the now; only a few, like Lou Gerstner, can author the future.

Story is more than a communications tool, more than a sales tool; it is a decision-making tool. McKee mentors clients in all three uses of story-in-business: to bond, to persuade, to envision. Each of the three has three dimensions.

To bond means using story (1) to create empathy between employer and employee, (2) to inspire teamwork across corporate divisions, and (3) to enhance the flow of communication up and down the corporation’s pyramid of power.

To persuade means using story (1) to send positive brand awareness in the public’s mind, (2) to forge new markets within that public, and (3) to sell.

To envision means shaping knowledge and feeling into the form of story in order (1) to broaden and deepen an executive’s wisdom, (2) so they can make effective decisions based on both hard and soft data, and (3) to lead the company the way a great author guides the reader through a novel. Executive genius is a kind of literary genius.

A leader sees possible futures; their decisions create the future. When one uses their insight to envision the world in story form, one can sense how a corporation’s desire will rub against the world’s antagonisms before this friction sets events on fire. Story gives foresight to see the consequences of future events long before they happen. A leader prepares for change no matter how illogical its cause. In fact, sensitivity to irrational change is quintessentially rational.

For a story to move the listener to a positive action, it must dramatize the negative side of life. In the same way, a positive work environment cannot exist without acknowledging the negative. When "positive thinking" ignores things negative, terrible business decisions follow as night the day. The wise leader fosters a corporate culture that allows for the open expression of observations and insights - especially when those ideas are insightful, negative criticisms. Always in pursuit of the truth, the hidden hows and whys, a great leader embraces storytelling and surveys the corporate universe as if they were an author imagining a novel.

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Robin Carey
Two Arts, Inc.
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