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Telling a story, and thus existing. A concept that also applies to businesses

Alessandro Perissinotto effectively illustrates a form of storytelling that is globally applicable

Recounting a story. And thus remembering.  And even before this, making yourself known. Sharing. Making your own story, or other stories, available to others. Telling a story in order to bear testament to our existence. And to avoid being alone. Even when it comes to organisations (both those in the social and manufacturing sectors) – which at first sight may seem far removed from the world of storytelling – we find that this remains an important process, not least in order to construct a more complete and comprehensible corporate culture.

The theme of the story in its different forms is important for us all, and the vast theme of storytelling is taking on ever-greater importance. This is precisely why “Raccontare” (Telling a tale) by Alessandro Perissinotto (who teaches storytelling at the University of Turin) is a useful read: it is a book of less than two hundred pages, itself written in the form of a story (although some passages are not easy to read), and is full of both theory and practice – stories which demonstrate how to build an effective narrative and numerous examples drawn from the world of economics and business, art, and from regional sources, crime news reporting and science.

Perissinotto first outlines the theoretical aspects of telling a story – he begins by explaining the complexity of finding a single definition of the word “storytelling”, referring to this as an “umbrella term” – and then goes on to explore the tools that are used to build a good story, before placing storytelling within the context of society and people’s behaviour and looking at the way it explains these. Then, having laid down his theory, the author takes a closer look at storytelling within organisations (and first and foremost in companies), in the way in which a region is described, in crime reporting (as mentioned), and then in theatre and in medicine, as well as touching upon diary writing and the humanities.

In each passage, Perissinotto carefully combines different sources, places and images to provide a balanced panorama of the merits (and also of the risks) associated with the many ways of building a story and making it known. His observations also apply, for example, to organisations, and Perissinotto explains how storytelling can really serve as a valuable tool that enables the nature of these to be better explained, as well as warning that this should be approached with care and caution (to avoid “distorting effects” that could only do damage).

Perissinotto’s story of storytelling really is a good read. And it cautions, above all, against the traps and passing trends into which storytelling can fall (becoming a fashion itself, among other things).

We can’t live without stories. This is the message that the author conveys to the reader. A message which we simply must take on board.

Raccontare. Strategie e tecniche di storytelling (Telling a tale. Storytelling strategies and techniques)

Alessandro Perissinotto

Laterza. 2020