Corporate storytelling is playing a bigger role in companies these days. It is about the stories we tell in-house, and the stories we tell externally. People tell stories all the time. That is how our brains are structured. Evolution shows that we have survived through stories.
On this page we’ll be going through some of the theory about corporate storytelling and change management we use at Levende Streg.
SEE – FEEL – CHANGE
In ”the Heart of Change” John P. Kotter and his co-author Dan S. Cohen explain how people need to see and feel – in order to change. John P. Kotter is internationally regarded as the foremost authority on the topics of leadership and change. His is the premier voice on how the best organizations achieve successful transformations.
In their book the authors argue that change in organizations often fail because leaders focus on communicating only data and analysis whey launching new strategies for change management. In stead they should be creatively showing and doing something that appeals to emotions – this way inspiring teams and employees to get into action.
Kotter and Cohen calls this the ”see-feel-change” dynamic. A dynamic that’s absolutely crucial for successful transformation in an organization.
TYPES OF STORIES
And that’s where corporate storytelling comes in. In her book ”Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins” Annette Simmons explains about corporate storytelling – and how you can lead and create organizational change with corporate storytelling.
She tells about the different types of stories that a company can use - depending on the context and the message that the company needs to communicate. Thus when you start out to tell your company story, you need to decide what type of story you wish to tell. Below we state the types of stories.
People need to know who you are before they can trust you. When telling a who-are-we story then you need to answer these questions: What kind of business does your company do? And what kind of values and goals does your organization have?
When people assume you are here to sell and idea or a product that will cost them money, time or resources – your ”facts” and information is discredited or biased. That’s why you tell this type of story.
In this type of story you explain what your organization gets out of it – besides the money – and what your customers get out of it. You must focus on telling the truth about your motivation to create trust and authenticity.
This is because most people will look for a “fair” exchange – they give you money – you must create value for them – and not make too much money on them.
Certain lessons are best learned from experience. But since you can’t transport people to live through a given experience – the closets you can get is to tell a story about it. Stories transport you viewer / listener to see – feel – and then change.
That’s why this type of story is often part of change management – it helps you change behavior of for instance employees, customers or co-workers.
For instance if you want to teach people patience – tell a story about being patient.
Big projects and new strategies can be challenging to implement and structure – and they can suck the energy of out of even the most outstanding team.
An exciting future story reframes the present struggles and difficulties as being “worth it”. In stories like these you get to see projects and strategies with a helicopter glance – from above.
Note that vision stories that promise more than they deliver can do more damage than good.
You’ve probably heard this metaphor before: Direct the rider, motivate the elephant and shape the path.
Values are always subjective. So if you want to encourage a value and a change – you must illustrate in action what that value means. Be specific about it.
This could be a story about how an employee in your customer care bent the rules in order to put your customers first and treat them well.
If people have already made up their mind about your organization and the products you sell, you will have difficulties in convincing them otherwise. That’s where this type of story comes in handy.
In this type of story you share your recipients’ secret suspicions and then dispel their objections – but don’t be too defensive.
LET US HELP YOU
At Levende Streg we help companies visualize their stories, strategies and company goals. Corporate storytelling is one of our three core elements at Levende Streg. The two other elements are animation and illustration.
Give us a call, let’s hook up on skype – or we can meet at our office in Copenhagen, Denmark.