The story isn’t the icing on the cake, it IS the cake…

January 30, 2012

By Michael B. Tatham, President, The Tatham Group

So says Peter Guber, one of the most successful Hollywood executives.  In the Globe and Mail article The third act of Hollywood deal maker Peter Guber, Simon Houpt shows how this success can be attributed to being a master storyteller.  Guber describes his business not as entertainment but as ‘emotional transportation’.  Give people information and they will forget.  Tell an amazing story and people will remember for years to come.

These words resonate with me as we are also in the business of emotional transportation.  Changing the mindset of an executive, and the people who work within the organization, is not going to happen simply by presenting convincing data and reasons.  As Nelson Mandela eloquently puts it, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands that goes to his head.  If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”  True change happens from the heart more than the head.  A good story opens the mind and inspires everyone.

Our business simulator creates a safe environment for people to create their own stories.  There are a lot of concepts learned and the volume of information sometimes has participants leaving with their heads swimming.   However our ‘secret sauce’ to rapidly changing not just what people are doing but how they think comes from the story telling that is woven throughout the experience.  Participants don’t just listen to the stories of others, they begin on a journey of their own that they can share with the rest of the organization.  They are the creators of the story which speaks to their hearts and thereby creating the motivation and catalyst for personal change. Collectively this adds up to momentum for organizational change.

What stories have transported you emotionally?  What are some stories that have inspired you to change?