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Three business history lessons from Spike Lee




Each leader must have strong storytelling skills to convey the vision of the organization and inspire their teams. Storytelling is a leadership skill that can be learned and improved. It is the art and science of conveying context, challenges, opportunities and results. In his book "The Leader's Guide to Storytelling," Stephen Denning says, "storytelling is more than an important set of tools to get things done: it's a way for leaders – wherever they may be – to embody the change they seek. " [19659002] There are many elements of storytelling as a skill. In his Masterclass, the acclaimed author, director, producer and professor Spike Lee shares several storytelling. Here are the three that resonated with me the most: do the research, create the story, do the work.

Do the research

Lee is a thorough researcher. Before making a movie, he spends a lot of time immersing himself in the context of his theme: he reads related books and articles; listens to music from the era or context he is studying, and reviews related work including films and documentaries others may have done on the subject. "Without research, your story is likely to be one-sided," says Lee.

He takes detailed notes on 5

5;7 index cards. He places the index cards in a box, and when the box is full, he is ready to start writing the story. This paper-based approach allows Lee to mix the index cards in a different order as much as necessary to convey his vision of the story in the movie script. Lee claims that doing the research makes your story relatable and allows you to weave your message more effectively.

In a business context to tell a meaningful story, a manager must answer the question: "what business problem are we trying to solve?". You need to do the research to understand the context of the problem you are trying to solve and identify the most important challenges and opportunities. You must review literature internally within your organization, including past strategic plans, performance reports, customer and employee. surveys and reports on similar or related projects. In addition, you need to review related literature outside the organization: books, journal articles, Gartner reports and magic quadrants, thought leader interviews and videos, to understand how others in the industry are addressing similar issues. When the research is complete, you are ready for the next step in creating the context of the story.

Make history

Storytelling is about creating an emotional connection with the audience. In creating a story, Spike Lee says he creates a story without being formal or building three-act scripts. In business, we usually have to report on data, business results or organizational change. Scott Berinato, senior editor at Harvard Business Review, says storytelling with data is not about PowerPoint slides and numbers, but about configuration, conflict, and resolution. As an example, he uses the following basic story to explain these three concepts: 1) Layout is the current situation: Charlie Brown runs to the ball 2) Conflict is an unexpected development: Lucy takes the ball at the last minute 3) Resolution is the outcome: Charlie Brown is upset. Therefore, layout is the current situation or context. Conflict is the challenge we face, and solution is how we respond to the conflict situation. There are many ways to create a story to create an emotional engagement with the audience.

In the business context, when the research is complete, the hard work of gathering the data and weaving the story begins. A practical application of elements from Lee's structure is the way I train first-time TEDx speakers. First, I ask them to distill their big idea, then to identify three key elements and the data to explain and support those elements, and finally to end the story with a call to action, all in 18 minutes or less. Your big idea will need to address a business priority, and usually center on one of these questions: "What business problem are we trying to solve?" Or "What is the value to the customer?" or "What is the effect on performance?" You may find that history can be controversial at times because it highlights a challenge or business problem that is lower than expected performance, rising costs, or higher than expected risk.

Doing the work

"There is no sideline and no withdrawal: you have to do the job," Lee says. In his case, this means writing the script which is around 120 pages. Lee breaks the daunting task of less scary deliverability into 2-3 pages per day. Creating something from nothing requires work – focus, organizing and putting in the hours to write.

In business context, there are no shortcuts. You have to put in the work to create a story that is relevant and get an emotional connection with the audience, whether it is your team, your leadership, your stakeholders and of course your customers. Work to define the big idea, and then gather the support data to create the story.


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