Use Storytelling To Define Your Culture

Stories are a critical component of corporate culture. That’s why one of my 6 Cs of customer-centric DNA is “Compelling Stories.” Author Philip Pullman once said: 

‘Thou shalt not’ is soon forgotten, but ‘Once upon a time’ lasts forever.

So I was intrigued when I found a story called “Telling Tales: The art of corporate storytelling” in a 2007 edition of a magazine for Costco’s members.

The article offers-up advice for developing your corporate stories, which I’ve refined into these five items:

  • Identify what stories you want; select key elements of your culture.
  • Craft powerful stories; look for good stories and then write them down and perfect them.
  • Use an employee’s name; specificity is good and it helps boost morale.
  • Keep it short; if it’s too long, it’s hard to remember and repeat.
  • Use and re-use the story; don’t be shy in retelling the story.

One word of caution: Make sure you’re being honest. The stories will only work if they reinforce actual pieces of your culture. So you need top be clear about how your company operates. As Jack Welch is known for saying: Deal with the world as it is, not how you’d like it to be

The bottom line: Tell stories with a purpose

About Bruce Temkin
I am a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, marketing, interaction design, customer service, and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers. I am also the co-founder and chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.

6 Responses to Use Storytelling To Define Your Culture

  1. Great advice. Thanks for posting this.

    Liz Sealey

  2. Great post. Thanks for the advice on getting customer experience stories.

  3. Megan Burns says:

    Stories are so powerful, aren’t they? I recently came across this blog post from HBR that underscores your point nicely:

    http://blogs.harvardbusiness.org/bregman/2009/06/the-best-way-to-change-a-corpo.html

  4. Pingback: The Physiological Power Of Storytelling « Customer Experience Matters

  5. Here’s a couple of other related blog posts about the power of storytelling:

    Stories You Can Tell- http://crmweblog.crmmastery.com/2009/01/stories-you-can-tell/

    Sticky Stories Can Compel People to Act Now and Buy-
    http://crmweblog.crmmastery.com/2009/01/sticky-stories-can-compel-people-to-act-now-and-buy/

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