Home

Articles

Authors

Customers' World

Co-created stories give face to corporate communication Companies are currently facing vast changes on many levels. One of the challenges is to evolve into a truly customer-centric service company. This challenging process can be facilitated by using storytelling as a tool for change. This article presents how stories can be used to create a customer-centric identity within an organization, to unite the staff and to guide people towards a common goal.

At worst, corporate communication holds incredible potential to bore the customers and to alienate the employees from the company.

Stories are a powerful tool for communication and interaction. They are simultaneously human-centered, memorable, economical, and entertaining. Stories help us to spark action and they encourage creativity. They give us means to handle emotions and to make sense of complexity. Stories co-evolve with culture but can also help to change it; storytelling is especially useful in change management.

 

Many change management experts are devoted storytellers. Graig Wortmann, an entrepreneur and the author of a book about how leaders and sales professionals use stories to connect, engage and inspire, argues that stories are the most powerful way to change a culture. However, storytelling is by no means reserved only for leaders and management. This simple yet effective tool can be employed by anyone in the organization. In fact, a shared story consisting of many voices can be much more engaging and relatable than a vision story told by a company CEO.

 

Thanks to interactive technologies, people have been accustomed to communicate and share their thoughts freely. It is a commonly recognized fact that people accept changes better if they have ownership in them. So, could the user-centric approach of service design be implemented to corporate communication with the help of storytelling? What if change was co-created together with employees in companies?

When employees become storytellers, a change initiative is communicated and marketed both internally and externally. Hence, this approach introduces a cost-effective, highly engaging method to implement change. The approach was piloted in a mid-size Finnish company, and the results of the first iteration round of it were promising.

 

In an online process that featured the participation percentage of 83 % and that took on average 1 hour 15 minutes of the staff’s time, the employees submitted over 450 posts that were used as a basis for creating a common voice for the company. The staff’s stories were eventually also refined into marketing materials. While participating in the process, employees became aware of the company’s new strategy and had to reflect it in the context of their own work. The staff and the executive board both welcomed the new approach with enthusiasm – “our communication has become much less faceless”.

Authors:
References: Briody, Elizabeth, Pester, Tracy M & Trotter, Robert 2012. A Storys Impact on Organizational-Culture Change. Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 25 Iss 67-87. Marshall, John & Matthew, Adamic 2010. The Story is the Message: Shaping Corporate Culture. Journal of Business Stratgy, Vol. 31 lss 18-23. Wortmann, Craig 2008. Can Stories Change a Culture? Industrial and Commercial Training, Vol. 40 Iss 3 pp. 123-141.

Ida Rainio

Mervi Rauhala

Service- & Content-Designer

Storyteller