“The Power of Stories”

by Didier Marlier on Friday October 19th, 2012

Some times ago, our São-Paulo office head and partner, Gabriela Jardim, asked me to check a video from a lady called Chimamanda Adichie. It was about the Power of Stories. It took me a while to finally watch the video in my huge pile of articles to read and, increasingly, clips to watch and… The best thing I can do, is to let Adichie speak, as her grace, talent and finesse are such a pleasure to watch…

So what can we, as Business Leaders, can take away from those moving reflections?

– We are going back to stories: A recent summary of the Global Futures Forum (organized by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service) suggests that, after a the five hundred years “Gutenberg Parenthesis”, new technologies bring us back to times where stories are very powerful. “We are coming out of a period in history defined by the linear and bound constraints of the printing press into an era of networked storytelling that looks a lot like the pre-Gutenberg world”.

– The power of stories: In a recent and interesting article (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/19/magazine/the-mind-of-a-flip-flopper.html?_r=1) the New-York Times relates several researches showing that stories are in fact far more powerful than facts and data in changing people’s minds and ideologies… So stories are far more than fiction… The stories we tell to ourselves determine the way we think of ourselves.

– The destructive potential of the single story, single perspective (Bay of Pigs and groupthink): The central theme of Chimamanda’s speech is about the danger of the si^ngle story. And this is something we should be particularly careful at as leaders. We all remember the “Groupthink phenomenom” (Wikipedia’s definition is “the mode of thinking that happens when the desire for harmony in a decision-making group overrides a realistic appraisal of alternatives”) made famous after the “Bay of Pigs” disaster (or not depending from which side one is). How many “Corporate Bay of Pigs” have we all witnessed or heard of in our careers?

– The charm of humor and humility… I confess to have been deeply impressed by the style of  Mrs Adichie in the clip hereabove. A lesson for many of us…

I therefore encourage you to take the time to watch and listen to this humbling (for us Westerners) moment of biting humor from a very smart Nigerian (I almost wrote African) Lady…

On my way to Paris for several sales meetings and reconnecting with long term clients and friends. Have a great week all.

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7 Responses to ““The Power of Stories””

  1. Dear Didier & Gabriela,

    Excellent video, thank you for sharing. We all fall into these ‘story traps’ when you have limited or no actual information.

    On a very personal note… I am tall, compared to the average person, and I can sympathise a bit with the stereo type issue.

    What do I sometimes want to reply when people ask, “wow, you are so tall, do you play basketball?”….

    “No, do you play putt putt golf?”


    Enjoy your week in Paris…

    Kind regards,

    • Thank you Chris 😉 This is why I am delighted you met Michael Newman, so you both wont feel lonely 😉

  2. Hey Chris… people always ask me the same think… I think that’s why we are Enablers partners 😉

    Glad you like the video!!

  3. Dear Didier:
    Ms Chimamanda Adichie’s statement is outstanding. She reminded me how frequently the suburbs know where downtown is, but not the opposite.
    Thanks for posting it.


    • Thank you so much for such a short and to the point comment Gustavo. Seems that, just like Ms Adichie, you know how to say the right things in so few words… Abrazo


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