KV Sridhar talks about the distinction between creativity and craftsmanship. He mentions that all living beings (not just human beings) including creatures like ants have the ability to be creative. But for us to express it effectively, we need to practice our craft – whether it is story writing, photography, humour or anything else. And mastering that takes years and years of practice.
Indranil distinguishes business story telling from Storytelling (that we see in Ramayana, Harry Potter or in movies). Indranil speaks about the fact that brevity and story-telling are not contradictory and it is often a false trade-off that people have in mind. He actually goes onto say that business story-telling might even be a more time-efficient way of getting complex, nuanced messages across the organization.
Indranil talks about some of the common areas in the Corporate world where we could use stories – building rapport, influencing and getting strategies to stick. He also talks about the distinction between narrating a story versus sharing something that has the structure of a story. He goes on to say that for the purpose of business story-telling, it is often sufficient to focus on the science and process of story-telling than get bogged down by the art which can be overwhelming for a few.
Indranil talks about the curse of knowledge using the example of “tappers and listeners” – an experiment conducted by Elizabeth Newton at Stanford University in 1990\. He talks about how asymmetry of information often makes us poor communicators because we are too close to the content. He talks about the criticality of understanding the context of the receiver while delivering key messages.
Indranil talks about what it takes to build the habit of story-telling within an organization. He underscores the futility of one-off programmes that leave you with a high but don’t really move the needle when people come back to the rough and tumble of their daily life. He re-emphasizes the criticality of some sort of a deliberate practice programme for people to bake in the habit.
Indranil talks about some of the hidden talents that story tellers have. He mentions that a lot of them are naturals in the way they tell stories and over time they have fine-tuned that capability. He lists R. Gopalakrishnan, Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos as three of the story tellers that he admires and shares a couple of his personal favourites.
Sudhir speaks about the four pillars of culture at HUL - Action, Values, Courage and Truth. He also speaks about how that these elements of culture are percolated through the organization. He traces these elements to the various strains of genetic code of the Anglo Dutch parent. He speaks about how when he spoke to some of the senior alumni of HUL, they shared stories of their experiences which eventually clustered around these 4 pillars.
Jennifer speaks about how we grow up listening to linear stories that have a beginning, a middle and an end and there is often a very clear chain of causality. She mentions that this leads us to “making sense” of the world through simplistic stories and often that can be really far from the truth. She speaks about how we can recognize this trap and avoid it.
Bruce speaks about how he was leading a reasonably successful and predictable life till his 40s where he experienced multiple events that shook his world. He was diagnosed with an adult onset pediatric cancer (a 9-inch tumor in his femur), his father tried to take his life 6 times in 12 weeks, his father’s family business almost became bankrupt and his mother went through health challenges. He speaks about how he discovered the power of stories in healing his father’s situation and in making sense of what was going on. That eventually led him to pursue the life story project where he spoke to thousands of people and analyzed all the data with the management thinker Jim Collins and his team.