Duration: custom, by agreement
According to interviews conducted by researchers at the Harvard Business School, managers spend 80% of their time communicating. But how much of this communication stays with its recipients? The studies on this are conclusive and easily summarised: not much at all!
The reason for this is simple: that despite being born storytellers, we as humans have forgotten how to tell good stories. Unfortunately, a myth has proliferated in the corporate world that communication must be fact-heavy and formal in order to be taken seriously. As a consequence, media, bloggers and the gossip grapevine gain the power to put their own, more powerful spin on the company’s internal and external communications. Simply, their stories are usually better.
This, in turn, creates a negative cycle whereby managers shy away from speaking to the public. Many business leaders have faced the painful truth that whatever they say and however correct their facts might be, their words are twisted by the media and politicians to fit the more interesting stories of the latter two groups. Such failed or inaccurate communication can have significant costs, just like false advertising or a misjudged speech from the CEO as part of a restructuring programme. At the same time, a good story, such as the ‘David and Goliath’ story of Apple, can make a company a lot of money. This highlights the need for CEOs to arm themselves appropriately.
Examples of ‘story challenges’ for CEOs: