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Squirrel Inc.

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Squirrel Inc.

A Fable of Leadership Through Storytelling


15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Once upon a management lesson: how to tell seven types of stories that create the outcomes you want.

Editorial Rating



  • Innovative
  • Applicable


Any leader will benefit from mastering sincere storytelling that is designed to achieve specific organizational objectives. By using some storytelling techniques himself, in the form of a fable about business-owning squirrels, author Stephen Denning teaches you how to tap into your natural storytelling ability, so you can focus your listeners’ goals and vision. He explains what types of stories elicit a variety of desired outcomes. He also teaches you how to tell your story and explains the reaction you can expect to generate if the story is apt. Storytelling lets leaders engage people, helps them relate to the company’s goals and creates a forward-looking organization. With Denning’s guidance, you can use your ’once upon a time’ skills to build camaraderie, focus and happy endings. recommends this book to all leaders, since storytelling is destined to become an unexpectedly critical skill.


In a Nutshell

"So this squirrel goes into a bar..." begins the fable, referring to the treetop nectar bar where the corporate critters from Squirrel Inc. hang out. The bartender narrates a story about Diana, a rising executive who comes into the bar all dejected. She feels like an outcast because she made a great presentation and her managers looked at her like she was crazy. She wanted the firm to change from helping squirrels bury nuts to storing nuts for them. Management thought that was much too radical.

The bartender teaches Diana that she could reach her managers better by telling a "story" than by presenting data. He tells her how to create a story to bring about change, perhaps by using an example of a few squirrels who actually stored nuts, instead of burying them, and showing how it worked pretty well. The approach is: if they did it, why can't we? And better and bigger. Diana pursues her dream, with help from other squirrels, some adventures and lots of storytelling. She provokes change and gets promoted. But her progress stems from using stories to foster change, reveal a leader's character, build teams, share information, create a sense of community...

About the Author

Business consultant Stephen Denning, a former World Bank executive, has worked with such companies as GE, IBM, and McDonald’s to help manage change through organizational storytelling. He is also the author of The Springboard: How Storytelling Ignites Action in Knowledge-Era Organizations.

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