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How storytelling helps alliances

Before you begin considering whom you’ll partner with – or even where you’re going – you must consider why. You must answer the question: “for the sake of what?” For what reason will you seek to partner and expand into the new and unchartered waters of international alliances? And once you’ve get further into the alliance building process, your “for the sake of what” will need refinement and some reorganization so that it begins to tell a story. A story that combined with metaphors allows you and your partner to share interests and aspirations through a new and powerful dimension.

After all, human beings are storytellers and stories in all forms do one critical thing: they bring people together. They provide a platform for understanding the world as a team, as well as a way to share emotions about projects, dreams, visions, and desires that will require several people to work together. Stories that are well crafted, clearly articulated and delivered from the heart, are one of the most powerful tools for engaging with your partners and being able to garner the kind of commitment you need as you build an alliance.

Keep in mind that the story will change throughout the process; it will grow, morph and develop throughout the partnership, and as it does, you’ll be part of that story, shape that story and be shaped by that story. That’s why now that you’ve shared information about each other, you’ve discovered the potential visions at play and reasons for working together, you still need a way to commit – a way forward. And the way forward is through the authentic expression of a heart felt story that expresses the potential and the possibility that the seed of partnership has within it.

In building the story behind the alliance, you can generate fresh perceptions of the potential that you and your partner have foreseen while discarding assumptions about one another, so that the power of the social bond being created evolves into the team’s will to commit. Cultivating a story for your potential alliance – with the underlining tone that you know will instill hope and the possibility to overcome the challenges ahead – will be a tool to help illustrate the central reason you and your prospective partner will easily commit to building a business partnership together. The story you cultivate is designed to answer the all-important question of “for the sake of what?” while at the same time engaging through metaphors the potential learning needed for success.

So how do you search out and convey the story that we’re talking about? It’s simple. Here are a few pointers:

  • Let go – Let go of the idea that the story has to be perfect, that it needs to be compelling, entertaining and let the story come forth from the actual experiences you have had with the partner, and through the process up to now.
  • Enter the inquiry – As you begin to let go, allows yourself to reflect and inquire. What have I seen over the course of our meetings? What dynamics have I noticed play out? What underlining sentiments have I seen? What actions lead me to believe that we are moving forward or that maybe commitment may not be possible? What metaphors express what has been experienced and what deep truth or meaning is waiting to be expressed but has not been voiced?
  • Let yourself find the story by connecting to what is real for you – As you let go and begin asking the questions, the real story will come forth. Don’t hold onto finding the perfect story, just let it come and have fun creating it and articulating in the truest way you can what you find. Stay honest to what you see and feel and the story will come up on its own.
  • Convey the emotion and deliver the story: It all comes together when you prepare the presentation that tells the story and conveys the metaphors that engage the partnership to commitment. Here you may consider using pictures that convey the message, videos that demonstrate where you’re headed, all with the tone that will move your process toward commitment.

However you choose to build your story, remember that the central purpose is to get your prospective partners excited about what you hope to do together. Your “for the sake of what” is your answer to why they would want to get involved and how you intend to create something cutting edge. The goal here is to draft a story that builds the shared vision and has an emotional component that resonates in part with what you are trying to accomplish. The story is then presented at the start of the invitation phase – it is the first point where you present everyone with the purpose for your involvement in this business relationship. Remember, you can’t have true commitment without shared reason for committing. This story is the crux of that shared reason.

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