“Stories and parables stick with you. They burrow into your heart and mind and help you see new ways of addressing old problems. For most businesses, fiction is an effective way of demonstrating the power of your solution.”
~ Debra Hilton
In “The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement” (https://amzn.to/2Efbg6) uses a fictional thriller-style plot to talk about critical management issues. His book has become a staple of the world’s leading management schools for reasons which go far beyond the lessons he shares about pursuing goals and implementing processes which transform outcomes. This may have something to do with the fact that it has a gripping plot so that students actually read the book.
“The Goal” is not the only example of the fictional approach to solving a business problem, but it still surprises me that more aspiring leaders and entrepreneurial thinkers don’t consider this approach to their business book. The ‘framework approach’ is an effective approach for purely convincing prospects that you are credible and have a process, but if your goal is to lead, persuade, and change the behaviour and outcomes of others then the fiction approach has a far more powerful impact on your tribe’s ability to imagine and visualise the outcome of following your framework than a simple narration can have.
Why Should You Consider a Fictional Approach?
Memorable: When you create a suitable plot and engaging characters to frame your business model even readers who usually only read non-fiction tend to remember the presenting problem and the final outcome more clearly.
Perspective: Because readers step out of their own problem while reading fiction, they are often able to actually see the similarities between their own situation and that described in the book more clearly than if they are continually asking, “Does this describe my business?”.
Disarming Resistance: When faced with a logical solution to an acknowledged problem, many business owners look for the reasons why it won’t work for them, rather than why it will. This might be the result of previous experience with a similar solution that didn’t work, or it may spring from price and cash flow reservations. However, while reading a story people tend to easily see the parallels between fiction and their reality and ask, “What if…?” thus becoming more receptive to possibilities and opportunities.
What Do You Mean by Writing a Novel as a Business Book?
Story is at the heart of what it means to be human, and every business owner and client is human before they are a doctor, building contractor, IT consultant, coach, teacher… Whether you are aware of it or not, your business solves a problem for your clients, customers, or patients and that problem and its solution is a constant narrative running through their head.
Telling that story allows you to tease out many facets of the emotional compulsion that lies behind your prospect’s action or inaction in the area you serve. It also enables you to highlight the emotional satisfaction they will feel when the problem is solved in addition to the purely practical advantages of solving it.
A fictional approach is not the answer for every business. Some prospects really do just want the nuts and bolts summary of your framework to determine your credibility and the quality of your thinking. However, if your goal is to establish thought leadership and motivate your prospects (as many coaches, consultants, and medical practitioners) wish to do, then you should consider taking a novel approach to your business book and thinking about how a plot and characters could allow you to present your point of view.
How Does Fiction Make Me More Credible?
Again, it depends on your prospective clientele. Many of the authors I write for are aiming to attract ambitious high-performers who want to excel in their field. These are people for whom the problem my clients solve is a significant road-block. It might be a logistic problem, a communication or technology problem, a health and wellness problem, or a mindset problem… but whatever it is represents a major challenge to their success and self-perception.
Solving this problem will change their lives, but they don’t see the solution as a laundry list of requirements any more than they picked their life partner on the basis of such a list. Implementing the solution will require trust, confidence, and emotional resonance as well as specific implementation steps and a fictional approach allows you to showcase your multi-faceted approach in an engaging and believable way.
Just in Case It’s Not Clear…
I was talking about this recently with a group of people and someone asked the question: “Do you mean I should make up everything? How can that be honest?”
You are framing the problem you solve and the solution you offer, along with how that transforms your client’s outcome in the context of a story. Recently, I’ve done this in the context of a romance, a mystery, an adventure story, and a thriller: the problem and solution are real, the context is chosen to highlight potential applications and demonstrate the need, and the outcome is probable in the light of the circumstances and decisions taken.
It’s a great way to stand out from your competitors: just imagine offering prospects a book they actually want to read… and one which is selling well on Amazon in its own right!
Does a Fiction Business Book Interest You?
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