Managing Change through Creative Storytelling

Stoneking Seminars  :  BUILDING LEADERSHIP

At the heart of every thriving enterprise - whether it's a film crew, a government department or institution, or a private corporation - you'll find a compelling and vivid STORY that answers all the important questions, from "what do we do and why are we doing it?" to "what might we become and how are we going to get there?"  Every human enterprise makes sense of itself - its past, present and future through the medium of STORY and STORYTELLING.  Hence every great enterprise is inspired, guided and continually re-inventing itself by the effectiveness of those that are telling, or enacting, its story.


To say that LEADERSHIP is central to the health and evolution of any business is to acknowledge the very important role of the STORYTELLER within that business or organization. But make no mistake, STORYTELLERS shouldn't be too thin on the ground. Indeed, a great organization is teeming with them. 

To grasp the essential importance of story in the management of human dreams, is to understand the salient truths embodied in every effective, dramatic story. Here are a few takeaways from the STORY experience: 


1. Diversity of leadership is massively important.

Diversity isn't just an HR buzzword. In fact, a plurality of backgrounds among your employees can actually improve the revenue and sustainability of your company. Each person brings lots of different experiences to the table, and the greater the mix the better. Companies that can harness the most amount of creative experiences will be more innovative in their approach to business.

A great storyteller understands the richest of possibilities when diversity becomes a cornerstone of the management narrative.

Innovative storytellers are always awake and watchful and ready to ACT. Their actions express the values that a truly responsive and user-friendly company or organisation is only too proud to show the rest of the world: "We want diversity of thought, we want diversity of style. We want people to be themselves. It's this great thing about what we are - no one has to be somebody else. You don't have to put on a face when you go to work and be something different. We're part of the same tribe; we subscribe to the same story. Trust is a living force, which allows us to be honest and straightforward, which allows us to admit when we are wrong, and gives us the courage to change."


2. Transparency is key. 

Everything that we do is a STORY we want all the storytellers to see and hear. Our clients are also part of our ongoing story - co-creators with us in the evolution of a narrative the value and significance of which we ALL see. Transparency is the key. It creates more trust and camaraderie, thus creating goodwill around the company and between the company and its clients. The storyteller in each one us knows: "The more transparent we are, the bigger difference we will make. "We want to be as innovative as possible, and not to miss any opportunity to maximize interactions and the share-ability of experiences. The more transparent we are, the more it's in the public space."

3. Read customer emails. (If anything, it humbles you.)

You think you understand your customers...but do you? Even Tim Cook, head of Apple,  the world's most valuable company, carves out time to walk around company stores and read customer e-mails. "I'll walk around our stores," he says. "You can learn a tremendous amount in a store. I get a lot of e-mails and so forth, but it’s a different dimension when you're in a store and talking to customers face-to-face. You get the vibe of the place...Not allowing yourself to become insular is very important—maybe the most important thing, I think, as a CEO.


4. You "can only do a few things great."

Great stories are focused - the characters pursue identifiable objectives. The characters have clear and logical plans for achieving their objections. Learn the art and drama of focusing on what you do best, and do it the best you can. Enter the story world of your company or organization with vigor and an appetite for creative (constructive) argument and debate. Fight like crazy about what you're going to do, and why you're doing it, because you can only do a few things great. Disrupt and conflict is not anathema to a great story; it is its life blood. Keep disrupting and keep discovering new things that people didn’t know they wanted.


5. Admit you're wrong.

From the CEO all the way down to the rank and file - they all get  so planted in their old ideas and assumptions that they either refuse or don't have the courage to admit that they're wrong or that their methods, techniques or rules of thumb are no longer as useful or relevant as they used to be. The most under-appreciated things about great leaders and great storytellers is the courage and capacity they have to change their minds. And you know—it's a talent. A rare talent.




Billy Marshall Stoneking is a successful writer, producer, and mentor. He is also one the most inspirational and dramatic storytellers working in Australia. His published work includes the modern Australian classic, Singing the Snake (Harper/Collins, 1990); and the the best-selling Lasseter : In Quest of Gold (Hodder & Stoughton, 1989). His many film, television and stage credits include Chopper (script editor), Mission : Impossible (writer), Sixteen Words For Water (writer) and the forthcoming feature film, Seeing The Elephant (writer/producer).

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After rejecting the facts of my life for many years, and trying to manufacture creativity from a place that looked outwards rather than inwards where the real juice and knowledge happens to be, I discovered the "Tribal Workshop" and was finally able to link themes I'd discovered in therapy and life experiences. The Tribal Workshop is the best investment you will ever make to support, inform and illuminate your journey as a writer, or in any creative endeavors. What a gift to be able to find out what your story telling (in any medium) should really be about. No more trying to second guess what public opinion or your parents or peers may be impressed with - cut to the chase and engage with the drama you are the expert in, and access your power. Do it! 

Christine Westwood
Photo editor, writer
The Australian