If Business Storytelling is not a science or an art, then what is it?

Published: March 25, 2024

Any attempt to write a good article starts with research, and here’s what I stumbled upon – “Business storytelling is a science and an art.”  

What appeared to be a profound truth was soon disturbed by another discovery. A Google search of “is a science and an art” exposed this conspiracy.
“Management is a science and an art.”
“Leadership is a science and an art.”
“Marketing is a science and an art.”
Even “Accounting is a science and an art.”

  So, it appears that any discipline that cannot be defined in simple terms and whose outcome is “circumstantial” gets labeled “as a science and an art.”

However, this need not be the case with Business storytelling!

Why Business storytelling is neither a science nor an art

Defining storytelling as science makes it process-oriented, structured, repeatable, and with predictable outcomes. Business storytelling then resorts to a template, a set of rules.

If these rules were easy to apply, why do we see so many poorly written movies, novels, corporate videos, articles, and advertisements?

By concluding it as art, we make it sound abstract, essentially claiming only the ‘born-creative’ people can do it. But this statement does not seem true if we consider the number of new movie directors, novelists, and marketing agencies mushrooming from nowhere, doing some fantastic work.

Okay, so what then is business storytelling?

A logical approach would be to start with a hypothesis.

The Hypothesis

Here’s one to consider – “Business storytelling is a mindset and a skill.”

Business storytelling is a Mindset

Merriam Webster defines mindset as a “mental attitude or inclination.” A more straightforward explanation would be to describe it as a “lens” through which you see and make sense of the world around you.

Here’s a practical example. Let’s assume that you are interested in cars. You might have observed cars in the past, but more like an onlooker. You might have developed an appreciation for some attributes and a vague preference for some brands.

  But when you want to buy one, the way you start looking at cars is very different. You have probably started pouring over reviews, looking at the dashboard of parked cars, noticing car advertisements, and seeing your favorite brand everywhere, all over the city.

“Fundamentally, the “lens” through which you have started looking at this specific aspect has changed. The subject of interest now “naturally” catches your eye.

  You can apply this idea to non-tangible aspects as well. Suppose you have a “growth mindset”, then you would be looking for growth opportunities everywhere, even to the extent of converting failures into growth while others might be brooding over their losses. You can extend this to buying a house, a laptop, a shoe, a piece of furniture, or even finding a partner.

The storytelling mindset

So, the implication is simple. Once “exposed” to the “storytelling lens,” you would be more inclined to see patterns and magic everywhere. Be it a movie, an advertisement, a documentary, a TED talk, a fantastic speech, a magazine article, or any situation involving storytelling.

And then, when you realize what storytelling can do for your career or business – creating and sharing excellent articles/blogs/posts/ webinars that can spearhead your growth – it’s guaranteed you would want to build this mindset.

That brings us to the next aspect of this hypothesis.

Business storytelling is a skill

When you fall in love with a problem, it’s only natural to seek a solution.

But how? Here’s an interesting approach.

Be Inspired, Imitate, Innovate

The eagerness to learn any skill – say photography, art, cooking, coding, writing, or storytelling – starts with a wow feeling, an admiration for the skill, the social & emotional benefits that accompany that performance, and a desire to have that experience for yourself—a true inspiration.

And when that inspiration is true, or when your career/life situation pushes you to take that step, the easiest way to start is to imitate the best of what you see. By sheer observation and imitation, you might come to see how it works.

Once you know the tricks of the trade, there is a natural urge to know “what if”? And that’s the urge to innovate, to understand what is beyond the known, possibly leading to excellent results. As they say, “learn the rules before you break them.”
So, using this mindset and the “3-i approach” to skill yourself, how can you apply it to business storytelling?

A new possibility for everyone

By approaching business storytelling as a mindset and a skill, we open up a new possibility for everyone – to share their experiences, build a brand for themselves, contribute to their organization, get recognized, and eventually have a fantastic career growth.

In the tech world, this skill is particularly beneficial for product managers, architects, and data scientists who have many stories to share. They have immense experience solving technical, business, and marketing problems and have many ideas that have got us everything from Netflix to Spotify to Uber to your regular banking app.

Yet, they rarely do!
Hence StoryEq – to share perspectives & ideas on the storytelling ‘mindset and skill’, so everyone can convert their experiences into growth. While professionals create digital footprint for themselves, organizations can benefit tremendously by sharing this knowledge with prospects to bring in new business.