Strictly Business Belmont University College of Business Administration


Managing a Better Story

I was so happy to find out Donald Miller, author of Searching for God Knows What, Blue Like Jazz and A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, among others, will be speaking at Belmont on September 1st. In his latest book and talks, Miller challenges his audience to “live a better story.”  The last time I heard Miller speak, he gave what I thought to be a great management lesson when working to accomplish a project/goal. Miller says it is important to start by developing a single climatic scene, a “fleshed end goal that is compelling to instill sacrifice.” To get everyone on board, you have to explain the “why” behind the process and help communicate what the results will actually look like, not just give figures. Miller explains “engagement goes up when connected to a climatic scene.”

He offers the following questions/comments to think about:
•What project do you need to create a storyline for?
•What outcomes are you responsible for?
•Why is this good for your organization, customers, community?
•Describe a scene that can only take place if you're successful. Use the answers to write scene.
•From your associates’ perspective, why might this not be engaging?
•Is it something they can envision?
•Can people make an emotional connection?
•Does bringing about the scene mean we've accomplished all we are responsible for?

Miller encourages us to think through our inevitable conflicts, by asking ourselves “what are the most obvious major conflicts we'll encounter?” and “how will we respond?” After this is determined, it is time to hire the characters and assign them conflicts to respond to. Miller concludes that story is designed by God, and He “increases conflict so [people] will value what they pursue.”

We will all continue to face challenges and opportunities in all aspects of life, but it is up to us to take responsibility and “live a better story” that engages others and positively transforms the world.

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