Course Detail

Storytelling and Narratives in Business (42124)

Course Description by Faculty

  • Rolnik, Guy
  • Content
    This course aims to help students excel in one of the business world's most important competencies: the ability to construct and to deliver a powerful, influential narrative.

    What differentiates those who are more successful interacting with bosses and colleagues inside an organization? How do managers create trust and change the attitudes and behaviors of their teams? What differentiates the entrepreneurs who succeed in raising money from those who fail? Why are some companies more successful in attracting and retaining both employees and customers? How do companies that are yet to turn a profit command the value of billions of dollars? What is the basis for effective lobbying and rule-shaping?

    Whether interviewing for a job, advancing in your career, leading organizations, motivating people, creating strong brands, building and sustaining reputations, or working effectively with politicians, regulators, and the media – successful managers, entrepreneurs, and companies share a few common, potent skills: they appreciate the importance of stories, they develop and maintain coherent strategic narratives – and they know how to tell them.

    In this course we will study the critical role of stories in driving success in many real-life situations. We will gain an understanding of how our reality is comprised of stories, we will establish a critical perspective on stories in the arenas of business, economics and politics, and we will study the characteristics of successful stories and storytellers. All the while, we will practice and hone the telling of our own powerful, personal stories.

    This course will feature two to three guest lectures of leading figures from the industry. Students enrolled in this class will have the opportunity to learn and engage with guest lecturers who hold, or have held, prominent roles in large corporations where they effectively employed their unique storytelling skills.

    Order of topics in class are subject to change, according to guest lecture.
  • Materials
    The syllabus, readings, cases, and all other information can be accessed in the Canvas site.
  • Grades

    Grades will be based on class participation, memorandums, and an individually submitted project. Provisional grading will be available for non-Booth and joint degree graduating students.



    *This course demands a number of unique requirements – including a high level of open, active participation that entails sharing your story and emotions – that some students may find challenging. While taking this class is an opportunity to overcome those challenges, students unwilling to tell their story in class and to receive open feedback from day one should feel free to drop out of the course. If you are unsure about whether this course is right for you, please reach out to the Head TA -*  

    Participation – 30%
    - Attendance during all nine sessions
    - Participation - will be tracked in each class based on the quality of the response
    - Telling your story in class
    - Responding to cold calling
    - Participating in two team 1-1.5 hours feedback meetings in groups of 4 students
    - Submitting two questions to guest speakers before class

    Memos and story submissions – 30%
    - First story draft due before the 1st class ~ 500 words (P/F)
    - Midterm submission due before week 6 ~ 500-700 words, and a 5-minute recording, including the “Arc Canvas” with all the components (P/F; receive feedback on the written version)
    - Submitting four memos on case studies and stories (P/F)
    - Two submissions of progress reports with insights from the group meetings before (P/F)

    Final Project submitted individually – 40%
    - Final written version of your personal business story ~ 500-700 words 
    - 5-minute video recording of your story
    - Your story charted across the “Arc Canvas” template
    Due: Friday, May 26 2023 (final letter grade) 

    • Mandatory attendance week 1

    • Allow Provisional Grades (For joint degree and non-Booth students only)

    • No auditors

  • Syllabus
  • Spring 2024Section: 42124-01TH 1:30PM-4:30PMHarper CenterC01In-Person Only
  • Spring 2024Section: 42124-81W 6:00PM-9:00PMGleacher Center206In-Person Only
  • Spring 2024Section: 42124-85S 9:00AM-12:00PMGleacher Center206In-Person Only
Description and/or course criteria last updated: June 2 2023