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Storytelling In The News: #135

Summary of storytelling in the news for April 2004

April 30, 2004

April 2004 furnished another rich and fascinating tapestry of the impact of storytelling in the news. Despite the intent here to focus mainly on business stories, the business news was significantly affected by both politics and the war in Iraq, and the interplay between them.

Explicit consideration of the role of organizational storytelling

One of the striking things about storytelling in the new in April 2004 was the number of explicit news about storytelling itself.

* On April 24, 2004, the Global Province noted the growing role of storytelling in business 129.

* On April 25, 2004: I gave a web interview on using PowerPoint to empower your story 130.

* On April 28, Investor's Business Daily featured a piece on organizational storytelling as a leadership tool: 133; with references to the The Smithsonian Associates organizational storytelling weekend, which was also covered here in 122 and 123.

Knowledge sharing stories: the difficulty of learning from the past

Another theme of the month concerned the difficulty learning from stories about the past.

* On April 5, 2004, in the midst of the 9/11 commission debate about why the US didn't respond to the threat of terrorism earlier, we looked at the widespread complacency in the face of plausible stories US economy: disaster scenarios: 110

* On April 21, we looked at the claims of Eli Lilly & Co to be learning from mistakes and failure 126

* On April 26, we looked at the exuberance of those who, having lost their shirt when dot-com burst, may risk losing their trousers in the upcoming Google IPO: 131

* On April April 29, we looked at the great difficulty that human beings have in seeing the likely evolution of events, when everyone else is telling "bad news" stories. When Carl Icahn was able to do so in the case of ImClone, he made a profit of $250 million: 134

On April 6, we noted the important endorsement by the New England Journal of Medicine of the role of narrative medicine 111

Future Stories

Future stories played a prominent role in the April 2004:

* On April 2, the publication of the March job data sparked positive storytelling and a stock market market rally 107

* On April 3, we noted that competing storytelling at the National Australia Bank (NAB) led to very different versions of the future story of that organization: 108

* On April 12, we looked at the increasingly positive future stories that economists were telling each other: 117

* On April 23, we looked at the competing future stories of the impact of higher interest rates 128

* On April 27, we examined WTO's preliminary decision against the US on cotton subsidies and the $300 billion that this story has put in play: 132

Stories about values

Stories about values were also prominent, particularly stories about honesty:

* On April 7, 2004, we took a critical look at the implicit values in a Harvard Business Review article praising hardball strategies (a.k.a. stories) 112

* On March 26, we had looked at the difference between personal honesty i.e. telling the whole truth, including those elements that are perhaps less flattering to the person or supporting arguments they may be making; and the more limited organizational honesty i.e. being "factually accurate as far as the statement goes," with the possibility, if not the probability, that elements less flattering to the organization or not supporting the organization's. On April 9, we looked at Dr. Condoleezza Rice's testimony before the 9/11 commission from this perspective: 114

* On April 20, we looked at the issue of institutional spin in business and the huge cost of lying 125

* On April 10, we looked at the crucial role of individual persistence in successful innovation in biotech research: 115

Stories of identity

Stories of branding and identity are ever-present in the news:

* On April 4, we examined the differences between a linear vs a cyclical view of storytelling and the implications of creating a new story involving personal or organizational change 109

* In the story on April 6, about narrative medicine, we noted that it involved doctors acquiring a new sense of identity: 111

* On April 22, we looked at the stories that customers have about two cell phone companies, and the huge impact of the difference -- in April 2004 -- between the story that "Samsung is hot" while "Nokia is not": 127

Humor and taming the grapevine

Our piece on April Fool's day was no joke: it looked a the huge impact of humor in politics and leadership: 106

On April 15, we took time off from the unfunny subject of taxes to look at the role of self-satirical narrative in politics and leadership: 120

Images and stories

On April 11, we looked briefly at the little-understood phenomenon that images only have meaning when embedded in a story, and the growing recognition of this in fashion photography: 116

Performing the story: form vs content

On April 8, we examined the contributions made by the form vs the content of a story, in the context of Dr. Condoleezza Rice's testimony before the 9/11 Commission: 113

Unhelpful stories: blaming someone else

Although this website is mainly focused on high-value stories, we took time on April 13 to examine the unhelpful practice of the Secretary of Treasury, John Snow, of blaming someone else for problems that his own actions have caused: 118

All in all, a fascinating month of storytelling!

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