The work of managers is to communicate. When they do something, it is almost always a speech act – they get things done with words instead of with their hands or feet. They present, ask, tell and discuss, both verbally and in writing, in order to achieve their goals.
Much of this communication is factual, but to convince others, persuasion is often required. A key technique to win hearts and minds is storytelling – wrapping the message in a short tale to which listeners can more easily relate. Storytelling scripts are commonly used plot lines that appeal to people and sway them to embrace the underlying intention.
An effective story is simple to understand, has a straight-forward message and draws a clear parallel with the listeners’ own situation. Typically, such a story is an analogy (‘our situation is just like the Titanic’) and/or uses metaphor (‘we are a ship heading for an iceberg’). The Storytelling Scripts matrix suggests that there are five different types of stories, each conveying a different kind of message. The script of the stories can focus on the current or the future situation (horizontal axis) and on the problems or the possibilities being faced (vertical axis). This results in a 2X2 matrix with four basic forms and a fifth combining all the previous four.
The five generic storytelling scripts are the following: