The latest insights on narrative, storytelling and leadership in higher education.

Author: John Simmons

John is a Director and Programme Facilitator at Invisible Grail. Through his books and consultancy, John is widely considered the leading exponent of more expressive words as an essential element of communication for brands and organisations.

Introduction: The A-Z of writing

Two decades ago I wrote a book called The Invisible Grail. It was about writing better stories in and for organisations, because stories matter, they connect. The title is now adopted by us, a company whose aim is to improve…read more

Chapter twenty-five: Y-z

You have been with me on this point-to-point exploration for something like 25 steps now. So you know that we’re nearing the end. And you’ve probably guessed that there’s only one subject to end with: endings. Writing is thinking, it…read more

Chapter twenty-four: X-y

Xerxes is a favourite name from my childhood reading. My imagination was stirred by tales of the ancient world. Perhaps that’s why I quite like Xerox: it reminds me, deep down, of an almost legendary figure. We all have favourite…read more

Chapter twenty-three: W-x

‘What’s in a name?’ goes the familiar quotation from Romeo and Juliet. Obviously quite a lot, as a name is the basis for our identities as individuals, brands or organisations. As Ruth Ozeki put it in her novel My Year…read more

Chapter twenty-two: V-w

We demand individuality and memorability from our quotations." Very few of you will have failed to notice that I like to use quotations. I like them for their own sake, because someone has said something enlightening, true or amusing, and…read more

Chapter twenty-one: U – v

The trouble with words is you never know whose mouths they’ve been in"Dennis Potter Usually adverts come one at a time and are soon forgotten. But when I was first writing The Invisible Grail, back in 2002, I arrived at…read more

Chapter twenty: T-u

Talking in someone else’s voice – is it ventriloquism? Impressionism? If so, a kind of impressionism that has nothing to do with Monet. Ironically, since I’ve been writing about finding your own voice, let me suggest an exercise that aims…read more

Chapter nineteen: S-t

Short words suit swift actions...But it can be a boring, monotonous diet for those having to take these words in." Short simple words are the demands of the modern chief executive. Short words suit swift actions. Simple words fit clear…read more

Chapter eighteen: R-s

The sound of your words will tell you a lot – a stumble might point out the word you’re not sure about, a pause for breath might tell you when the sentence is too long." Rise to your feet and…read more

Chapter seventeen: Q-r

Questions can be very useful in helping you get started on a piece of writing. Why should this be so? Aren’t questions inevitably a sign of some uncertainty? What if we want to give the impression that we are totally…read more

Chapter sixteen: P-q

Punctuation is the cause of many problems. Some people get irritated by it because they see it as pedantry. Do they they do. It’s not pedantry – it’s fundamental to meaning. I liked the novelist Donna Tartt saying that she…read more

Chapter fifteen: O-p

Once I selected poems for all the members of the company where I was working. I invited them to live with the poem, reading it regularly, allowing meaning to inform them over time. I gave this poem by William Carlos…read more