Tell Me A Good Story

When we work in an area like knowledge management that is hard to reduce to useful numbers, it can be challenging to prove ROI for the bean counters. In fact, some would argue that numbers can never tell the whole story regarding a knowledge management initiative. So what works better? Find your success stories and tell them until you are blue in the face.

When thinking about what makes an effective success story, consider the advice of Dan Heath (author of Made to Stick) as he talks about Subway’s fantastic “Jared” advertising campaign in the following Fast Company video clip.  As you may remember, Jared was the poster boy for losing astonishing amounts of weight while eating fast food. Heath uses this campaign to remind us of the three key attributes of an effective story:

  • Concreteness
  • Unexpectedness
  • Emotional Impact

So how do you make this work for you?  First, think about what has improved in your firm thanks to KM. Next, find specific success stories relating to that improvement that are concrete, surprising and have emotional impact.  Then get out there and tell your story.  If enough folks listen, you won’t need to worry quite so much about the bean counters.

[Photo Credit:  Loren Javier]

4 thoughts on “Tell Me A Good Story

  1. Hi Mary, To the three key attributes I would also add relevancy. If I can't relate to a story, it will have less impact.Story telling is a great way of sharing knowledge. I once interned at an organisation, where Intranet usage was very low. One of the reasons (apart from being on a Sharepoing platform) was that people simply didn't know how the Intranet could help them get their work done. Instead of pointing out all the features, I started writing stories. In every story someone with a specific role (e.g. PM, HR professional, accountant etc.) was playing the main character. (S)he faced a certain problem, which was solved by using the Intranet. People were able to relate to the stories because they had a similar role, frustrations, needs as described in the stories.

    1. Hi Christoph -You're absolutely right that relevancy is important – perhaps the mostimportant attribute of a good story. If your story is not relevant to yourlistener, that listener will tune you out. Perhaps the key is to figure outhow your stock of success stories might be relevant to your audience andthen emphasize that angle. The alternative (hunting for specific storiesfor specific situations) might be too difficult to pursue.- Mary

  2. Hi Christoph -You're absolutely right that relevancy is important – perhaps the mostimportant attribute of a good story. If your story is not relevant to yourlistener, that listener will tune you out. Perhaps the key is to figure outhow your stock of success stories might be relevant to your audience andthen emphasize that angle. The alternative (hunting for specific storiesfor specific situations) might be too difficult to pursue.- Mary

Comments are closed.

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑