Storytelling for change.
A scroll through the volume of corporate content on social media is enough to make anyone pine for a return to the fine art of storytelling. With some viewing the term as just another ubiquitous buzzword, there’s a sense that the concept has been reduced to a fairytale nice-to-have with little impact beyond a short-term positivity fix.
It's a shame. Because stories will always shape the way we think and act. Every time we share an experience of our workplace we contribute to a broader cultural narrative. It confirms whether we’re engaged or apathetic; agile or slow-moving, and collaborative or insular. It means that the stories you and your employees tell, whether around the watercooler or on the company intranet, reflect your culture today and define your culture tomorrow. For good or for bad.
Perhaps even more persuasive is the fact that stories are organic. Yes, they need to be curated, and some of them will need to be crafted and shaped, but they are already scattered across your workplace. For the budget conscious, that means a sustainable source of content at a fraction of the cost of traditional campaign development. For those more concerned with relevancy and engagement, stories are authentic, human and accessible - they aren’t always positive, but neither is life, in or outside of the workplace. When it comes to addressing the biggest social issues of our time - like sustainability or equality - they can be brave and honest; providing a narrative for the data we find so easy to reject.
Ultimately, it’s when you connect the discipline of storytelling to your organisational purpose that we expect to see the effects it can have on culture and change. Purpose alone offers a powerful focal point for change, but a cold analysis of your social impact isn’t likely to connect with people. By amplifying personal stories, you can unleash an energy that would otherwise lay dormant . It helps people see why their work matters and it inspires them to aim for more.
So how do we successfully create stories that do more than just entertain? At MoreThanNow, we have a simple 5-step process that unites content creation with the insights of behavioural change.
1. Segment — Breakdown your purpose into clear objectives
2. Diagnose — Define the behaviours you wish to promote in pursuit of those goals.
3. Curate — Source the existing stories that already exemplify those behaviours.
4. Create — adopt a creative, brave and journalistic approach to sharing those stories.
5. Promote — Publish your stories across your communication channels.
The model can be applied to any communications programme and is grounded in the behavioural model of ‘social proof’. Its strength is routed in co-creation; in rising from the ground up.
If a simple 5-step process for generating great stories makes it sound easy, it isn’t. Aligning the stories you’re able to tell with your broader brand or organisational objectives takes work. Implementing the processes that generate those stories takes patience. It’ll be worth the wait.
Animal Spirits: How Human Psychology Drives the Economy, by George A. Akerlof and Robert J. Shiller
MINDSPACE: Influencing behaviour through public policy, Dolan et al 2009