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69. The Power of Organizational Stories

69. The Power of Organizational Stories

What it boils down to is this, people like to hear stories and organizations are made up of people. Organizational storytelling is the fine art of finding the stories, the myths told within a business and telling them in a way that is productive, builds morale and improves the bottom line.

For a deeper look at the mechanics of organizational storytelling, you would be best served looking at the work of Steve Denning (whose we show today) – an author and speaker who has devoted a great deal helping organizations tell better stories.

What I’ll leave you with is an excerpt from, “The Power Of Stories,” a 2006 Forbes article written by John Kotter that describes a few major organizations and how storytelling has helped them rise above the noise.

When Lou Gerstner became IBM’s CEO, the company had become bureaucratic and inwardly focused. Early on, stories about Gerstner poured out of the executive suite, and everyone in the company realized in short order that things would be different. For example, at a first Divisional meeting, where managers were accustomed to presenting great reams of overhead projections, Gerstner turned off the projector and insisted they all just talk. This story flew across the organization. Very quickly, having the best slides stopped being among the criteria for success at the company.

Sam Walton was famous for the stories told by and about him, especially those that featured his visits to his stores. In one instance, he heard a customer complain to a clerk that the fishing rod he had bought at Wal-Mart Stores (nyse: WMT – news – people ) had broken. “Mr. Sam” walked over to the fishing rod section, got an identical rod, gave it to the customer and deeply apologized. Stories like this helped build the kind of culture that allowed the firm to succeed wildly.

Watch the video and learn about another organization, The World Bank, and how Steve used stories to change the way they do business.

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