Cover of Storytelling in Business by Janis Forman
Storytelling in Business
The Authentic and Fluent Organization
Janis Forman

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2013
304 pages.
$29.95

Cloth ISBN: 9780804768719

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Winner of the 2013 Outstanding Academic Title Award, sponsored by Choice.

Storytelling can be a lifelong and life sustaining habit of mind, a personal inheritance that connects us to our communities. It can also serve as an organizational inheritance—a management tool that helps businesses to develop and thrive. For more than a decade, award-winning author Janis Forman has been helping executives to tell stories in service of their organizational objectives. In Storytelling in Business: The Authentic and Fluent Organization, she teaches readers everywhere how the craft of storytelling can help them to achieve their professional goals.

Focusing on the role of storytelling at the enterprise level, this book provides a research-driven framework for engaging in organizational storytelling. Forman presents original cases from Chevron, FedEx, Phillips, and Schering-Plough. Organizations like those featured in the book can make use of storytelling for good purposes, such as making sense of their strategy, communicating it, and developing or strengthening culture and brand. These uses of storytelling generate positive consequences that can have a sustained and significant impact on an organization. While large firms employ teams of digital and communication professionals, there's much that any of us can extrapolate from their experience to create stories to further our own objectives.

To show the reach of storytelling, Forman conducted 140 interviews with professionals ranging from CEOs in small and thriving firms, to corporate communication and digital media experts, to filmmakers—arguably the world experts in visual storytelling. She draws out specific lessons learned, and shows how to employ the road-tested strategies demonstrated by these leaders. Although this book focuses on storytelling in the context of business, Forman takes inspiration from narratives in literature and film, philosophical and social thought, and relevant concepts from a variety of other disciplines to instruct the reader on how to develop truly authentic and meaningful tales to drive success. A final chapter brings readers back to square one: the development of their own "signature story."

This book is a pioneering work that guides us beyond the pressure and noise of daily organizational life to influence people in a sustained, powerful way. It teaches us to be fluent storytellers who succeed by mastering this vital skill.

About the author

Janis Forman is the founder and Director of the Management Communication Program at the UCLA Anderson School of Management. In this capacity, she has taught communication as a form of persuasive storytelling to full-time and executive MBA's who conduct strategic studies for multi-national companies like Coca-Cola, Disney, and Microsoft and for start-up firms in the United States and abroad. Forman has received numerous awards for her research, including fellowships from the Fulbright Foundation, the Center for International Business Education and Research, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the UCLA Anderson Price Center for Entrepreneurial Studies. With Paul Argenti, she is author of The Power of Corporate Communication, which won the Distinguished Publication Award from the Association for Business Communication. Forman has consulted with a wide variety of organizations.

"Forman brings a unique expertise in the humanities and management disciplines. Her years of experience advising MBA students on strategy projects that require storytelling and consulting with executives give her a unique advantage as an author. This book should appeal to business professionals who want to learn how the power of storytelling can move an organization through a large-scale change, inculcate a cultural change, or execute strategy. Consultants will appreciate the in-depth case studies, diagnostic checklists for crafting stories, and connections to management concepts."

—Gail Fann Thomas, International Journal of Business Communication

"It is unusual to find solid research and practical guidance blended as skillfully as in this well-validated, readable, and practical guidebook . . . A valuable resource for rhetoricians as well as business scholars and practitioners. Highly recommended."

—M. S. Myers, Choice

"Forman provides compelling case studies that show why storytelling works in a business setting. . . She writes, 'Stories can cut through the busyness to capture attention, engage and influence people, create meaning, exemplify values, and gain trust.'"

—Sharon Shinn, BizEd

"In Storytelling in Business, Janis Forman shows how successful leaders leverage their ability to tell authentic, compelling stories. For scholars, this book offers intriguing applications of humanities concepts to important business phenomena. For business practitioners, this book offers thought-provoking lessons about how to inspire and motivate others through ethical storytelling."

—Daphne A. Jameson, Cornell University

"Forman has produced a long-overdue and absolutely convincing account of the importance of narrative in directing, inspiring, and shaping organizations. There is a way to use storytelling to great advantage in any organization, and Forman's book will show you how."

—Kathy Rentz, University of Cincinnati

"Many people in business understand that storytelling has the power to shape an organization's mission, engage employees, motivate customers, and influence public and shareholder perceptions. However, few people have the strategic and creative skills to develop their best stories and use them in the most compelling way. More than just a 'how to' book, Storytelling in Business provides a framework for understanding the purposes and elements of organizational storytelling. This book challenges us all to develop fluency in storytelling and guides us through the process of building a storytelling habit of mind."

—Barbara Shwom, Northwestern University and coauthor of Business Communication: Polishing Your Professional Presence