How Does Your Company’s Story Affect Your Culture?

October 22, 2013

COMPANY STORY AFFECTS CULTUREI read articles quite often that talk about the importance of telling a story in order to brand an organization.  More often than not, those articles tend to link branding and customer loyalty.  Lately though, I’ve been looking into another important aspect of a company’s story…employee engagement.

From my research, it seems there IS a direct correlation to engaged teams and a powerful story.  Here’s what I found out:

Your Mission Is Just One Piece of The Puzzle

I first learned about this from Dave Ramsey in Entreleadership.  The Lampo Group is a company that wears its mission on its sleeve:

The Lampo Group provides biblically based, common-sense education and empowerment that gives HOPE to everyone in every walk of life.”

Of course, this is a rare case where you can bring faith into work.  Most people would say that this just isn’t normal.  Hmm.  Not normal?  I think that is what we are going for here, right?  The title of this site is not Corporate Culture Normalcy.

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If you are familiar with Dave’s brand, then you know that his mission is only part of the story.  I grabbed the excerpt above from Dave Ramsey’s About Page.  As you can see, that mission statement is only a very small part of a bigger story.

Anyway, as I continued to research this topic, the next strong culture I came across was Chick-fil-A.  Regardless of where you land on gay-marriage, this company is standing out in the crowd for many other good ways (customer service, profits, growth).  Known for their strong ethics and over-the-top customer service, check their story & mission out:

To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us and to have a positive influence on all who come into contact with Chick-fil-A.”

Now, here again we have faith entering the picture and a larger story.  So, what about a successful organization that doesn’t have faith at the heart of their mission?  Check out Zappos’ Family Core Values:

  1. Deliver WOW Through Service
  2. Embrace and Drive Change
  3. Create Fun and A Little Weirdness
  4. Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
  5. Pursue Growth and Learning
  6. Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication
  7. Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
  8. Do More With Less
  9. Be Passionate and Determined
  10. Be Humble

Again, a similar situation; attention grabbing values & a powerful story.  An organization’s mission is a great hook for customers to bite on, but it’s also a foundation for teams to stand on.

No, It’s Not That Simple

I know what you are thinking, because I thought the same thing.  You can’t just paste these values up on a board somewhere and expect to get results like these company’s.  It has to be more than that.  So, what is it?

1.) Go deep – You have to really think about this.  It shouldn’t just be a one sentence deal.  People need to believe it and believe in it.  Your story and mission should be linked together.  If you need help with this, then get it!

2.) Write it down – Don’t just verbalize.  Write it down.  Post it publicly.  Make sure you know it backwards and forwards.

3.) Learn it and live it – Everyone on your team should learn your company’s story.  If a customer asks someone, everyone should be able to answer this similarly.  It will help unify and clarify.  Don’t leave this to chance!

 Question: Does your organization have a story worth telling?



4 responses to How Does Your Company’s Story Affect Your Culture?

  1. to your question, it does, we are a Christian wilderness retreat center and the camp/ranch has been around for 55 years. The stories are great, the history is rich, BUT old traditions and ways keep this place being its full potential. As a staff we feel that and quite frankly are worn out do to lack of vision and trying to be all things to all people Christian or not. Great post Bob

    • Sounds like a very cool place Steve! Although, I know exactly what you mean by old traditions… I’ve been in the steel biz going on 20 years. Believe it or not, little has changed during that time.

      Personally, I get great joy from influencing those around me and opening their minds to new possibilities. Whether it’s by sharing a great book, video, blog post or even just a pep talk on how we can be better as a team. The book “QBQ” really helped me see things differently. I celebrate even the smallest ripple of results from my efforts.

      You can also be a change agent, if you put yourself out there. It’s risky, but I think Jesus may have been a bit of a risk taker too, so you have a great model! Either way, you are not alone!!

      • Yea I love QBQ and ironically I was on the phone with John Miller last week to see if he was available to speak at a conference in Feb. I’ve also took to heart the quote, if yo want to see change be the change.
        thanks Bob