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They Just Don’t Get It! Why? The Power of Stories and Analogies

The Power of Stories and Analogies – Use of Real Life Experiences

I just hung up with a friend asking to borrow my track baton so that she could use it at a client meeting. I’m hurrying to pack it up and take it to the post office to mail it to her. You might want to ask me, “Why in the world would someone want to borrow your old track baton to speak to a client?”

Well, I’m glad you asked. Let me share with you the power of pulling from your life experiences and then using the principles of those events as stories and analogies to powerfully communicate with your team, customers, or clients.

I know this concept is not a new discovery, but sometimes we all need to be reminded of the “basics” that seem to always “ring the bell” of success! shares that an analogy is “a similarity between like features of two things, on which a comparison may be based.” In short, if you have a subject to communicate and it is new and/or technical in nature, many times people get lost in the jargon, lingo, or words they have never used or know the meaning of.

In the case of my friend, she has the challenge to educate and cast the vision with a new client their personal responsibilities and level of effort necessary to make a project successful. Her team will lead the effort.

Included are months of study, design, project development (i.e. processes and tools) and implementation. However, as with most projects, success really occurs when the receiving team/group takes the effort and carries it forward under the auspices of daily operations.

Don’t know if you have tried to explain this type of transition to a new client so that they truly understand what is involved, but it is “challenging” at best. Most believe they know.  But in practice they are waiting for the “project” to be completed with a nice finished product that is given to them with no further effort. It just does not work that way – PERIOD!

I had heard my friend tell this “baton” story to clients. I believe it’s the way that she tells the story, interacts with the attendees and uses the baton that brings home the point of a successful hand off between the developers and the operations folks.

She explains that the developing team has already been running their leg of the relay and it will soon be time for the operations area to take the baton to run their leg. That concept is usually straight forward.

However, she goes on, you know that in order for the baton exchange to be a success… the runner with the baton is already running at full speed and has to hand over the baton to the other runner while he or she is running full speed.

She explains that the simple element of getting up to full speed quickly is the magic of a successful project pass. If it does not occur, just like in track, the team with the baton will run up the back of the team or worse drop the baton on the ground.

My point is not to promote the use of the baton story in your situation. But it is to remind you that each of you have real life experiences that you can draw upon to engage your team, customer, or clients. Anything you can draw a likeness or a correlation to always helps people grasp new concepts.

The baton is now in your hands to try it!

What analogies or stories have you told to teach a concept to your team or client?

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