Maria Shriver’s and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s separation has given me two deep thoughts. One is about fathers and daughters. The other, as follows, is about business:
On The Today Show on May 17, Matt Lauer asked psychologist Gail Schwartz, “What allows a marriage to succeed and what generally ends a marriage after something like this?
“If people get together and understand what brought them together in the first place and that is still there, and they acknowledge how important the life narrative they have shared together is and that turns out to be valuable to them—to these two people, that could be the case. To a family like the Kennedy family who knows how important a life history is to the meaning of the rest of their lives, that’s a possibility. I don’t count it out completely.
That got me thinking: If your organization faced a major crisis that threatened to end its very existence, if its core leadership could no longer agree, or if its core leadership changed drastically and had to make some dramatic strategic decisions, what would the leadership team use to guide its decisions? Would you have a life narrative? Would your organization have a life history that’s valuable to your clients and to your community, and that would help you focus on the future and make the best decision, whatever the decision might be?
Katya Andresen expounded on the value of narrative in a recent post on her Non-Profit Marketing blog, but storytelling for business is about more than getting your message out in a relatable, plain English, simple and cost-effective way. It’s also about branding yourself from within, finding a larger purpose that every employee can identify with and hold onto and about solidifying that purpose in times of change. No wonder HR Perspectives & Strategy dedicated its first Perspectives issue in 2011 to the power of storytelling in business.
One particular commentator echoes the observations I made above in his Perspectives article. Rob Quish, COO at New York marketing and advertising firm JWT, wrote, “Inside every company is a story. Finding it and telling it well is an investment that is well worth it. A great inside story helps to define the company as an employer … A great story can hold the right people and lure the best people.”
So ask yourself: What is your organization’s life narrative?