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, CCXP
I'm an experience (XM) management catalyst; helping organizations improve results by engaging the hearts and minds of their employees, customers, and partners. I enjoy researching and speaking about these topics. I lead the Qualtrics XM Institute, which is the world's best job. We're igniting a global community of XM Professionals who are inspired and empowered to radically improve the human experience. To achieve this goal, my team focuses on thought leadership, training, and community building. My work is driven by a set of fundamental beliefs: 1) Everything starts and ends with human beings, so you need to understand how people think, feel, and behave; 2) XM is a discipline that needs to be woven throughout an organization's entire operating fabric; and 3) Building the XM discipline requires a combination of culture, competency, and technology.

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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