Stories: The Art of Effective Communication

Think of Batman, or Snoopy in Peanuts. Think of Hanuman in Indian mythology, or Enid Blyton’s Famous Five.

All good stories have a hero or team of heroes, plus two other key elements:

  • A serious challenge
  • The hero(es) dealing with the challenge and learning something, as a consequence.

But this does not happen. Company stories repeatedly fail.

Here is a story from a typical brochure:

“ In 1950 we started business as XYZ Tractor Company in Calcutta. Today, we are a dynamic company with offices in 50 countries, spread over five continents. Our annual revenues are over US$ 25 billion. We are ISO 9001 certified; and have won the IMC Ramkrishna Bajaj National Quality Award. For the past three years we have been selected as one of the Best Global Companies to Work For.”

In some ways, it is an impressive story. There is only one problem: It is not a good story.

Why? It has the wrong hero.

If you want your prospect to identify with your story, you must do what good story tellers do. Make that person identify with your hero.

Your prospect is not going to identify with you, your company, or your products. For a simple reason: You are not, and never can be, their hero.

Instead, they are their own heroes. People identify with themselves. They want solutions to their problems. They are not interested in helping you reach US$ 27 billion in annual revenues; or in opening an office in Rio de Janeiro.

People are interested in making the quality of their own lives miraculously better.

The ideal story talks about a client, not about the company. It puts the listener in that hero’s shoes, and creates tension around the challenge that confronted the hero: customer rebellion, high cost of poor quality, aggressive competition, lost vision, etc. The good story shows how the client overcame those challenges. It always has a happy ending.

Your best stories are not about you. They are about them.

Tell stories that make your clients the heroes, and make your prospects identify with them.

Then they will see how you can help them.

Lesson Learned: Put the audience, not you, in the hero’s shoes.

Qimpro has branded such stories as Quality Fables. These fables are based on real experience and involve real people.


The MADE IN INDIA tiger is a creative representation of the idea behind becoming a manufacturing behemoth in the global markets. Any resemblance to any other logo, is purely unintentional.


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About Suresh Lulla

Suresh Lulla established Qimpro Consultants Pvt. Ltd. in 1987 as a focused quality management consultancy based on The Juran Trilogy: quality planning, quality control, and quality improvement. Since inception, Qimpro has saved Indian corporates over Rs 20,000 crores in terms of cost of poor quality, using the Juran methodologies. In 1989, Mr Lulla established Qimpro Convention as a culmination of a quality improvement competition for the QualTech Prize. Currently, there are three parallel competitions - improvement, innovation, and sustainability in the manufacturing, services, and healthcare sectors. Areas of Specialization • Problem Solving • Process Excellence • Performance Excellence • Benchmarking Best Practices Author Mr Lulla has authored 'World-Class Quality: An Executive Handbook' published by Tata McGraw- Hill (2003). Quality Fables In 2014, Mr Lulla released Quality Fables. Unlike Aesop's Fables, these 25 fables are not based on fiction and/or animals. They are based on real experiences and involve real people. Each is a short narrative making a significant point. Recognition In 2004, Mr Lulla was awarded the IMC Juran Centennial Medal for his pioneering contribution to quality practices in India. In 2005, Mr Lulla was awarded the Distinguished Alumnus Award by the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay in recognition of his outstanding achievements in Quality Management Consultancy. In 2006, the Institute of Management Consultants of India conferred on Mr Lulla the award of Fellow Member. Professional Bodies • Chairman, IMC Quality Awards Committee - IMC Ramkrishna Bajaj National Quality Award; IMC Juran Medal • Director - Membership Retention and Engagement, Global Benchmarking Network
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