Discover the power of your personal story
People love stories. From early childhood we relate to them easily. At first sight, the facts and figures of a business don’t fit to great storytelling, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Narratives can be a real asset for an inclusive business. And we are convinced that entrepreneurs can use storytelling to reach their network of investors, customers, and other stakeholders.
Good narratives can be supportive in many different business sectors, like organizational development, marketing, explaining the value proposition of one’s business or in identifying and overcoming communication gaps with partners and customers. To create more awareness of this effective and business supportive measurement, Siemens Stiftung initiated the project “Stories about us”. Communication experts from all over the world are providing their storytelling skills through workshops, training founders to use their company’s story in the best way possible. In 2017 alone, workshops have taken place in Ghana, Uganda and Germany.
In August 2017 a related storytelling workshop was part of the empowering people. Onsite (epOnsite) event in Mumbai, India. During an instructive three-day-workshop about organisational development, our regional empowering people. Network members and social entrepreneurs from other networks such as SEED and IDIN/MIT had the opportunity to gain an insight into the world of compelling business storytelling. We talked with Maulik Chauhan, a participant of the epOnsite in Mumbai and associate director of Dobility India, about key-learnings he gained in the meeting, and in the storytelling workshop.
Maulik, you are the associate director of Dobility India. What is Dobility all about?
Dobility’s goal is to promote and improve research and analysis in the world by providing an affordable, reliable, and professional technology that anyone can use. The SurveyCTO platform we use collects qualitative data with the help of mobile devices. The platform can be used online and offline. The technology is already used in over 150 countries, and by some of the world’s leading research organizations and data-driven non-profits.
What was your “lightbulb moment” when you developed the story of Dobility within the storytelling workshop?
The most enlightening moment was discovering the added value of connecting my personal journey with presenting our organization, its social impact and its core mission. My personal goal is to connect with the underprivileged segment of the Indian society, and to try make their lives better in every possible way. I firmly believe that technology is the most powerful tool to bring social change and to improve the living conditions of millions of people in India. I wasn’t aware of the power my personal story could have when related to our business. Thanks to the workshop my whole approach has changed. Now I can better communicate the social impact our product has on society, and demonstrate that it is about more than just selling a product.
So you make use of the tools and insights you gained about your organization in the workshop?
Yes, the learnings from this workshop were an eye opener for my organization’s development in many ways. I have already used some of the approaches for reconsidering existing structure within the organization. It is adding a fresh perspective and is helpful in identifying progress indicators.
Self-reflection was an important part of the story telling workshop. How did the tools help to analyse the development of your organization and the challenges you went through?
The self-reflection exercises helped me in recognizing factors that played a vital role in the overall success of Dobility within the last years. The so-called “time series analysis” helped me a lot in understanding the historical development of my organization, and how I can overcome future challenges. I am going to adopt this introspective approach for my organization’s growth over time.
You also took part at the epOnsite training on organizational development. What were your key insights or key learnings from these three days?
The epOnsite training was very informative. The training was helpful in assessing the overall performance of the organization and predicting its future growth. But I want to highlight three approaches that provided me with the biggest insights about my organization. First, Organizational Structure Assessment. This helped me a lot in identifying various domains within my organization, and to understand the different roles my team members are playing in them. I could also determine how the domains depend on each other, and that we will need to restructure our organization to ensure sustainable growth. The second approach I liked a lot is the Succession Plan. With this approach, I learnt to visualize and define timelines that tell me when and under which circumstances my team members are ready to take on more responsibilities as their expertise grow. And last but not least, the Agile Approach for Organization’s Development. This was one of the most revealing learning approaches. I had to define current organizational processes and develop ideas, and how we will need to re-arrange or change them over time for staying in line with the changing environment.
Maulik Chauhan is heading Indian operations for Dobility. Over the years he was responsible for setting up and monitoring the data management system for Western and Eastern parts of India, as well as developing professional documents on industry best-practices in data entry/cleaning, disseminating the information to the research associates, and asserting random and regular data audits of projects. He is an expert in research, data management, and data analysis and was engaged in many international research projects related to The World Bank, Harvard University, The London School of Economics and Political Science, and MIT.
The empowering people. Onsite (epOnsite) is a regionally-based and hands-on program of training opportunities. The epOnsite workshops cover the diverse geographical locations of our empowering people. Network members and deal with different topics such as organizational development, market research or corporate communication. In 2017, epOnsite trainings took place in Ghana, South Africa and India.
The Storytelling-Tool, or the use of narratives, can be a complementary and innovative method that enables players to look at their social businesses from different perspectives. Changing perspectives lead first to a deeper understanding of the other players. Misunderstandings and prejudices can be overcome and conditions for sustainable and successful relationships created. When stories are told well in the context of the entrepreneur’s ecosystem, storytelling can help to communicate and to coordinate overall meaning within the ecosystem. The challenge is to understand how to make stories more valuable, more tangible and more impactful towards behavioural change, which includes both changing belief systems and organizational systems.
Read here how the participants participants from IDIN/MIT experienced the epOnsite and what they think about the workshop.