The Best Companies Know Their Own Story

Employees are your most important customers

Why does your company exist? As a leader in your business, have you thought about this? Do you know your story, but have never articulated it? More importantly, do your employees know your story? And do your customers?

There are plenty of good, solid companies out there that really don’t understand their reason for existence. They make money, and they’ll probably do just fine. However, they never quite find that higher level.

Meanwhile, companies like Disney, Apple, Starbucks, GE, and others have developed a story that resonates both inside their walls and outside.

They’ve reached another level that most companies can’t get to—they’ve gone from good to great.

In his landmark business book Good to Great, author Jim Collins wrote that great companies have one thing in common—a higher purpose that is understood and embraced, both internally and externally. This purpose goes beyond financial goals. It guides the company through virtually every decision it makes.

This purpose is wrapped up in the story that the company tells about itself. It’s a story that management, employees, and customers all believe in. To make sure the story you develop and tell resonates with these key constituencies, it’s vital to take what Seth Godin calls the audience’s worldview—the way they acted and believed and judged you before they encountered your company—into consideration.

In other words, the story has to ring true; it can’t just be about how incredible your products or services are. This means that you need to have an understanding of your audience, whether internal or external. If there are issues, you need to confront and acknowledge them. This isn’t easy, but when done well, admitting imperfections will help to earn the trust of these important constituencies.

Now, you might think that because you live in a world of “facts and numbers” that a company’s story sounds like “soft stuff.” However, science shows that stories have impact. When we read or hear stories, the neurons in our brain light up. Stories have the power to create an emotional response, and most humans (i.e., your employees and customers) are driven by emotion when making decisions.

When your company has a cohesive, compelling story, everybody understands the goal of the organization. It aligns everything. It makes conversations simpler. It provides guidance for big decisions. It helps you succeed in turbulent times.

In other words, focusing on telling a great story works.

It’s just smart business.

Contact us at 215.441.4600 or Email if you have questions or would like to discuss how this topic may impact your business.

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