Last week I talked about the power of storytelling and how Enterprise Architects need to become effective communicators. This week I will continue to dig into the storytelling concept and how it can be used to help you communicate the value of Enterprise Architecture.
Why tell a story?
If you were to explain to any business person what the value of Enterprise Architecture is, what would you say? Would that person understand? Would they get excited about what they are listening? The reality is that most people within our organizations do not perceive or do not know what value EA provides. As Enterprise Architects we struggle with communicating value in an effective way. We normally focus on the architecture itself and assume that everyone else understands how important it is, but in reality that is far from accurate. Creating PowerPoints with architecture models, charts and graphs only resonates within the architecture team. Can we change this and get everybody around us excited about the EA projects we are working on? Yes! How? Using new communication methods such as storytelling.
According to the National Storytelling Network, Storytelling is the interactive art of using words and actions to reveal the elements and images of a story while encouraging the listener’s imagination. In other words it involves a two-way interaction between a storyteller and one or more listeners.
Storytelling is a simple and very powerful way to connect with your audience. We all know how to tell stories. In fact, we do it every day in personal conversations. Why wouldn’t we do it in professional conversations? Telling a story enables your audience to relate to what you are talking about without requiring them to be trained specifically in the topic. When conveying complex topics through storytelling the following outcomes can be expected:
– The audience gets to know you on a personal level which allows you to create a connection.
– You build credibility and people trust you more.
– You motivate people to act or believe.
Business before connection equals failure, but connection before business spells success
Creating connections is the missing piece of the EA puzzle. Let’s think back. How would you describe your favorite teachers, bosses, or coaches? Why did you like them so much? Was it because of their knowledge or because you felt connected to them? As human beings we remember people because of how we feel towards them. When you get to know someone on a personal level the vision changes. If you like someone, you are probably more likely to support him/her in any effort. Isn’t that what we need as Enterprise Architects? We need people to trust us and we need to learn how to tell our stories for them to connect with us. We need people to believe in us.
It is time to start telling our stories! Tell a real-life story about yourself and allow your audience to know you on a personal level. Remember, people have an instinctual need to know what drives you and why you are talking to them in the first place. When they see passion and authenticity, they believe and engage, allowing you to motive them to act.
Save EA and tell a story!
We know how extremely important and valuable Enterprise Architecture is to transform and move organizations to get to a better tomorrow. Explain what EA is doing or trying to do in your organization by starting with WHY.
-Why do you care?
-Why does it matter?
-Why should the organization listen to you?
Make sure that you begin every conversation or presentation answering these ‘why’ questions. Your audience will see your passion shine through and will stir excitement and motivation within them.
This week I would like to challenge you to tell a real-life story about yourself to convey your message in the workplace. How did it go? Was it easier than the usual PowerPoint hum-drum method? Join in the conversation and let me know how it goes.