Organizations must understand, use, and control the stories that define them

“Want to develop a sense of belonging and buy-in in your organization? Collect and refine the stories of your group members that best embody the attitudes and outlook you want to promote. Actively tell these stories and encourage others to create and share their own.” – Haven

How important is story to your organization? Do you know the path that your organization took to get here? Are you the founder of your organization? What motivational stories to do you have to share? Why aren’t you sharing these?

“The conclusions of each of these studies shows that stories are an essential and inseparable part of successful organization existence. The question is never, “Do organizations need stories?” or even “Do stories play an important role in organizations?” any more than “Do humans breathe?” is a reasonable question. They do. Period. The question of concern in these studies is: do organizations consciously understand, use, and control the stories that define their beliefs, attitudes, decisions, and actions?” – Haven

When we learn about a new organization that we’re interested in (or are forced to interact with) Stories give our minds a way to process the information.

“Stories reveal causes and consequences that form the foundations of meaning.” – Hirst

We need stories to make sense of the motivations behind the organization’s decisions to do things the way they uniquely do.

As a consumer of products and services from the organization, I want to know why they choose to conduct business the way they do.

“Narrative fulfills critical sense-making function. If you can’t see the story; you won’t learn the content and its meaning.” – Spicer

Remember this important point:

“We humans live, think, and learn through stories.” – Haven

Why are you holding out on us? We want to know who you are before we choose to work with you. If we’re forced to interact with you, tell us who you are. Make it easy for us to like you.

“I believe that the way of storytelling and the ways of conceptualizing that go with them become so habitual that they finally become recipes for structuring experience itself, for laying down routes into memory, for not only guiding the life narrative up to the present but directing it into the future.” – Bruner

Let’s play a game.

Set a timer on your phone for 7 minutes. Think back to the founding of your organization. Why was it founded? Write on this topic for the full 7 minutes.

Connect the reasons with a beginning, middle, and an end.

Stories need these three points to show your readers the characters involved, the motivation behind certain organization-defining-decisions, and the realization of the goals of the organization through struggle, hard-work, and the awareness of their customers and their unique position in the market.

Stop holding back your story. We want to know who you are before we work with you. Make it easy for us. Share your story. Craft your story. Spread it. Share it!

Author: David Neely

Professional Software Developer. Technology and Web Coordinator at the University of Hawaii's Manoa Career Center.