Storytelling for CIOs: From niche to bestseller

What do the following quotes have in common? “Call me Ishmael;” “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen;” “I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.”

Whether it’s Moby-Dick, Nineteen Eighty-Four, or I Capture the Castle, respectively, these opening lines from classic novels make us want to read on because we are piqued, amused, surprised, or intrigued in some way. A love of narrative is a constant factor of the human state; scientists put it down to a feel-good hormone called oxytocin, but whatever the reason, who among us can resist a rich story, engagingly told and amply illustrated?

Storytelling is as old as humanity itself and it’s core to the fundamentals of faith, politics, and marketing. IT leaders and CIOs have also long recognized the power of storytelling, but only recently has the phenomenon become formalized with many saying they’ve attended workshops or seminars on the topic with the express intention of improving their sense of narrative and power to communicate and persuade. Going beyond that, some said they attended sessions on fiction, poetry and scriptwriting. “I take what I learned in the scriptwriting seminar about passion and the narrative arc into every meeting I attend,” one chief technology officer said.