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Effective storytelling: strategic business narrative techniques

Stephen Denning (Advises organizations world‐wide on knowledge management and organizational storytelling ( Formerly the Program Director, Knowledge Management, at the World Bank, he is the author of A Leader's Guide to Storytelling (Jossey‐Bass, 2005).)

Strategy & Leadership

ISSN: 1087-8572

Article publication date: 1 January 2006




As more and more firms grasp that narrative is central to addressing many of today's key leadership challenges – for example, articulating the risks and opportunities identified by strategic management tools like strategic plans, scenario analysis, and dilemma resolution – the question becomes: how is a CEO to make effective use of storytelling?


Narrative – also known as storytelling – comprises an array of tools, each suitable to a different business purpose. The author lists these tools and summarizes how to use them effectively.


Even executives who are naturally talented at narrative also need to learn to target their approach to the particular issue facing the company.

Practical implications

While leading companies increasingly recognize the need to train leaders to use artful narrative to inspire and guide their organization to respond effectively to these strategic challenges, the reality is that most organizations need help to get the full benefits of using storytelling.


When introducing storytelling a sharp focus needs to be kept on the business purpose being pursued with the tool, as well as on the different narrative patterns associated with different purposes.



Denning, S. (2006), "Effective storytelling: strategic business narrative techniques", Strategy & Leadership, Vol. 34 No. 1, pp. 42-48.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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