We’ve all heard stories of entrepreneurs who’ve fought against the odds to find their purpose. Industry leaders such as Kalpana Saroj, entrepreneur and chairperson of Kamani Tubes, or Biocon founder Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw have shown grit, resilience and tenacity to achieve their goals. Their stories remain with us and inspire us to take charge of our own lives.

The Art Of Storytelling In The Workplace

Stories are powerful. Stories impact every one of us in different ways. They inspire us, motivate us, and appeal to our emotions. At the same time, they help us relate to the main character and recognize their efforts.

At first glance, storytelling may seem out of place in a professional setup. But, if deployed properly, it can improve your performance at the workplace and advance your career prospects.

You face challenges at work daily. It can be a disagreement with a teammate or a perilously close deadline.  By weaving storytelling into your communication strategy, you can identify suitable solutions to a problem. The ability to categorize events based on what, where and how can help you arrive at elegant solutions to knotty business problems.

SCQR (Situation-Complication-Question-Resolution) Framework—part of the Writing Proficiently course—will help you outline your problem and reach an effective resolution. Let’s learn more about the SCQR or SCQA (Situation-Complication-Question-Answer) model with SCQA examples.

What Is The SCQA Framework?

The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle explained that stories have a beginning, middle and end. This structure was popularized by author Joseph Campbell in his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949). According to Campbell, every story depicts a journey where the protagonist faces a challenge and finds a resolution.

Many organizations rely on the art of storytelling to craft their mission statement. For instance, Wildlife SOS shares stories of rescued animals to get people to care about the environment and natural habitats. The idea is to draw people in with arresting narratives that convince them to think about the hardships that animals go through.

Storytelling can be applied to many situations in your professional life. The SCQA Framework outlines the structure of storytelling in the workplace. For instance, say you have to tell your manager that you haven’t been able to complete a client presentation. Following the SCQA model to craft your email will help you explain the situation and provide likely solutions.

Here are the four steps in the SCQA method:

1. Situation

Start with explaining the situation or ‘where you are now’. You should begin by describing the current state of affairs. This is typically something the reader may already be familiar with.  In this example, your senior is aware that you haven’t prepared the client presentation. A short line laying out the situation will help clarify the purpose of your email.

2. Complication

Explain the complication or challenge that you’re facing. This is where you state the reason for not completing your task. Perhaps it was a pressing personal issue. Or, you may not have received critical inputs from a different department. This could be a piece of information that the reader—your senior, in this case—may not be aware of. Frame the complication honestly and directly without any frills and bows.

3. Question

Frame the right question in a way that it is clear that you are seeking the reader’s input. The question should look something like, “How should I proceed from here?” The reader should be able to understand that you need their help to move forward.

4. Answer

Suggest effective and manageable solutions to the problem. You should be ready with some solutions of your own. Once you’ve framed the problem and outlined its possible causes,  it’s time to find the answers. This is where you could suggest plausible ways to correct your mistake or overcome a systemic barrier.

SCQA Examples

Let’s understand the SCQA framework with the help of an example.

Paro is an operations manager at Product Co. She’s tasked with writing an incident report after a major product malfunction. Following the SCQA method, she describes that the final product has a visible dent. She clearly outlines the complication as a fault in the machine that is used to make the product. She enquires about possible methods to rectify the problem while stating that an entire lot has been impacted. Paro concludes by suggesting that the company try a different production machine that features newer technology.

Paro effectively used the SCQA framework to convey an urgent problem in her incident report.

Tell A Story

Enhance your office communication approach by mastering the art of storytelling. Use the SCQA model to improve your writing skills and convey your intention with clarity and brevity. Harappa Education’s Writing Proficiently course will introduce you to resourceful techniques by which you can refine your writing ability. The course will teach concepts such as the Pyramid Principle that’ll help you frame your key ideas and advance them with supporting evidence. Improve your communication skills with the help of Harappa’s expert faculty as they share their personal experiences to guide you on the path towards professional success.

Explore the skills & topics such as Writing Skills, Process of Writing, How to Write a Report, 7 C’s of Communication & Elements of Communication from our Harappa Diaries blog section and learn to write proficiently.

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