Before the written word, humankind used a different tool to spread useful information quickly and memorably through populations and generations.
The more useful an idea, the more incentive we have to make it memorable and spreadable.
What’s one of the best ways to make information memorable and spreadable?
Embedding it into a narrative.
When you read the great old myths from around the world, you see this firsthand.
An eternally useful idea is packaged into a story. The story survives. The story spreads.
(NB. Another powerful tool for making ideas memorable and spreadable is rhyme, but that’s a story for another day.)
This goes for our own company stories too. If an idea is important, somebody will have a story about it.
The ideas that matter are packaged in stories. Our best ideas become narrative.
And people are catching on to this.
In recent years, “Corporate Storytelling” became a thing.
Of course, the usual suspects giggled cynically.
“This is a bunch of faddish nonsense,” they scoffed.
This storytelling stuff is important BECAUSE it goes back tens of thousands of years; BECAUSE it is an essential piece of the human puzzle; BECAUSE it is ancient, and not just a passing fad.
A mountain of hard evidence supports this. And it is far from pseudoscientific.
A team of researchers found that when an audience hears a story, their brainwaves sync to the storyteller’s, facilitating greater understanding and memory.
A study found that people typically structure their word-of-mouth communication as stories by default, revealing how foundational narrative is to our thinking.
In his deeply-researched book, “Contagious”, Jonah Berger identifies six traits of ideas that spread, one of which is that they take the structure of a story.
But what can YOU do to tell your business’ story better? Does it need telling? Does it matter? And if so, which parts? Talk to your people. Have a discussion. You might be surprised where it ends up.