Ditkoff: Storytelling @work

Ditkoff: Storytelling @work“Mitch Ditkoff’s Storytelling at Work reminds us that truth is rarely in the bottom right corner of a spreadsheet. It’s already inside of us.”

The above statement is a powerful quote from Jon Bidwell, the Chief Innovation Office at Chubb Insurance, who as a serious practitioner of corporate innovation and change for a long time in “CIO years”, is in a good position to deliver that insight.

Storytelling at Work is a serious walk through the ubiquitous topic of storytelling – and also in my experience, rarely given its due by leaders. Mitch Ditkoff has been building the bridge between storytelling and work for a long time and is one of the wise ones. He knows that adding more storytelling improves efficacy for whatever it is that we are trying to communicate. It’s simple to do, opens minds, and shifts behavior in a positive way. Here are some reasons why:

  1. Storytelling is the most effective, time-tested way to transmit meaning from one human being to another.
  2. According to neuroscientists, psychologists, theologians, sociologists, advertisers, linguists, and marketers, storytelling is what makes a message memorable and allows it to ‘stick’.
  3. Storytelling quickly establishes trust and connection between the speaker and listener. It increases receptivity, captures attention, engages emotions, and allows the receiver to participate, cognitively, in the narrative.

“Look at it this way: If you want to transport water to a thirsty person, you need a container — a cup, a bottle, or canteen. If you want to transport wisdom, you also need a container. And the best, most available, container we have is story.” – Mitch Ditkoff

Storytelling at Work features 38 of Mitch’s innovation-sparking stories from the front lines of business and 16 provocative essays about why storytelling is our species preferred form of communication and how to tap into its transformative magic. Here are some storytelling ‘wins’ that can be learned from this terrifically readable book:

  • communicate values not just skills

  • decrease teaching time

  • build community

  • ignite five more regions of the brain than mere fact giving

  • help people make sense of their world

  • shape perceptions via the subconscious mind

  • reframe frustration, paradox, and suffering

  • change behavior

  • provide a dependable way for people to remember, retrieve, and retell a meaningful message

  • use the art of storytelling at work

According to Ditkoff, “Companies spend millions of dollars each year training their employees. And while these educational efforts do have some value, they often ignore a fundamental reality: that within each and every person they are trying so hard to ‘tool up’ is an untapped, naturally occurring, business growth intelligence that does not need to be taught, only awakened.”

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Julie Anixter is the executive editor and co-founder of Innovation Excellence. She is also the incoming executive director of AIGA, the professional association for design. The co-author of three books, she’s working on a fourth on how innovators transform disciplines. She worked with Tom Peters for 5 years on bringing big ideas to big audiences, and has spent decades as a practicing innovator across industry, the US Military and the non-profit worlds. You can follow her on twitter here.

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One Response to Ditkoff: Storytelling @work

  1. Pingback: Innovation Excellence | Top 20 Innovation Articles of January 2016

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