Corporate storytelling has been largely dominated by heroic stories, referring to extraordinary circumstances, handled by extraordinary people. They make for good headlines in the newsletter and it shows the corporate tribe is alive and kicking. They point to a future of possibilities and, as such, they are stimulating and motivating. But their effect is limited and rather ephemeral. The average employee can’t relate to them. It’s not extraordinary people in front of extraordinary circumstances. ‘Most of the time’, you and I belong to the category of ordinary people doing ordinary work. Yet, through this day-to-day work, these employees, achieve significant outcomes, but not of the type that make headlines and most infuriating, many people keep them secret.
Good stories of success are mostly non-heroic ones (often anti-heroic) that have the power to trigger in others: it could be me, it could be my team, we could do that. That kind of effect. The more contagious the better.
In Viral ChangeTM we use a particular kind of story that is, as above, quite prosaic sometimes, but it is always a show of success (individual or group) and always connected with the behavioural fabric that Viral ChangeTM wants to embed. We avoid the heroic (nothing wrong with them) as we avoid the simple ‘naked testimonial’ (nothing wrong with them either) that is not directly connected to a set of values or behaviours.
Storytelling has become a (consulting) industry and a reservoir for many different things, not all effective even if under the banner of ‘story’. The key is to visualize the effect that you want to achieve and then plan backwards for the kind of stories that will lead you there. In that journey, many ‘good stories’ may need to be left behind.
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To change to ‘the new normal’ we must think and act differently in the management of our organizations.
Watch our Feed Forward Webinar Series , now available on demand, as Dr Leandro Herrero and his team of organizational architects, debunk uncontested assumptions and uncover the alternatives, whilst considering why this is even more relevant today in the current exceptional environment.
Have your critical thinking brain, switched on. It’s a serious business. It may also be fun.
- The Myths of Change 
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- The Myths of Company Culture 
- The Myths of Management 
- High tech, high touch in the digitalization era 
Dr Leandro Herrero is the CEO and Chief Organization Architect of The Chalfont Project , an international firm of organizational architects. He is the pioneer of Viral ChangeTM, a people Mobilizing Platform, a methodology that delivers large scale behavioural and cultural change in organizations, which creates lasting capacity for changeability.
Dr Herrero is also an Executive Fellow at the Centre for the Future of Organization, Drucker School of Management. An international speaker, Dr Herrero is available for virtual speaking engagements  and can be reached at: The Chalfont Project .
His latest book, The Flipping point – Deprogramming Management , is available at all major online bookstores.