Originally posted 18-Apr-24

Stan Garfield
3 min readApr 19, 2024

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Shawn Callahan is based in Melbourne, Australia, where his company, Anecdote, applies inspirational story methods to business. He has helped some of the world’s top companies to make their strategies really stick. His specialty is helping analytically-minded executives find and tell the stories that engage the emotions of, and ultimately inspire action from, their employees and customers.

Shawn started out as a geographer and archaeologist before working in the field of information technology with Oracle and IBM. His story-work began in 1999 while at IBM, when he started applying complexity theory to business issues. Story-based approaches to corporate practice were definitely on the fringe, but that was soon to change.

In 2004, when Shawn founded Anecdote, he had one clear aim in mind — to use story-work to bring out the humanity in organizations. He has taught business leaders how to be effective storytellers, and collected powerful organizational stories that prompt employees to work out for themselves what needs to change.

Shawn’s specialties are storytelling, strategic communications, leadership development, and culture change.

For more about Shawn, see Profiles in Knowledge.

Books

Spotting a Business Story

Stories have people doing things, including talking. If you hear someone’s name followed by what they did, or if you hear dialogue, the odds are you’re listening to a story. In fact, dialogue can only be delivered in a story — it’s a real giveaway.

A story is also a promise to share something the audience doesn’t know. To qualify as a story, there must be something in it that’s unanticipated. It doesn’t have to be a great insight, but the listeners should at least raise their eyebrows a little. That’s what makes it story-worthy.

Lastly, to be a business story, a story must have a business point.

Avoiding change management failure using business narrative with Andrew Rixon and Mark Schenk

The Ultimate Guide to Anecdote Circles: A practical guide to facilitating storytelling and story listening with Andrew Rixon and Mark Schenk

Crafting Story Questions

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Stan Garfield

Knowledge Management Author and Speaker, Founder of SIKM Leaders Community, Community Evangelist, Knowledge Manager https://sites.google.com/site/stangarfield/