Story bookIncreasingly organisations and individuals  are recognising the importance of narrative: not just in their communications but in their understanding of the transitional aspects of programs, and of change programs in particular. It’s how we facilitate people through the complex emotions of change.

Telling a good story has been a fundamental part of human existence and development for thousands of years. It’s the way we’ve learned, formed connections, inspired each other, warned each other and simply passed the time.

It’s a powerful technique that can deliver great results.


Narrative in the work environment

So how do we use the power of narrative in the work environment? It’s not about sitting down and telling long-winded stories, it’s about providing a clear picture of progression.

This can be useful in broad range of contexts:

  • Creating case studies and success stories to inspire others
  • Providing pathways to facilitate people through change programs
  • Articulating an organisation’s purpose and vision
  • Marketing the benefits of a product or service
  • Making the case for supporting a not-for-profit organisation
  • Developing personal stories for greater impact in interviews

I’ll be providing more specific detail on how to use narrative in these contexts in future posts, but first here’s a quick and easy technique you can apply to create a narrative structure.


SCAR: making a permanent mark

It’s time for the inevitable acronym. Following these four steps can help provide the engaging narrative structure you need.

Setting: how things are (or were)
Challenge: what was wrong with the setting, or what happened to change it
Action: the activity undertaken to meet the challenge
Result:the outcome of the action

Consider the following sentences:

1# ‘I invented an acronym so people could remember how to apply narrative structure.’
Not very exciting or engaging.

2# ‘I had a great technique for applying narrative structure (Setting), but nobody could remember it (Challenge), so I redefined it as the SCAR method (Action). Suddenly people found applying the structure easy and their communications made a great impression (Result).’
It’s just two sentences but it tells a much more engaging story.

Your narrative can be as complex or as simple as you need, within this structure. Most Hollywood films actually follow it.  If you’re writing a case study you’ll want more detail (or even drama) than if you’re answering an interview question on ‘how have you made a difference to a previous workplace’. It’s a question of making sure your story (or medium) is appropriate for your audience.

The next time you are trying to present information in an engaging way, trying using the SCAR method to apply narrative structure.

Let me know how you get on in the comments below, or if you have a question, fire away!


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