Reinforce your Desired Culture with Stories!

For centuries, tribes of all kinds have utilized storytelling to support their desired culture. In man’s early history, those stories were told around the campfire each evening, with tribe members going to sleep with a clear image of preferred tribe behaviors, values, and norms in their minds.

Today, stories about your organization are told around the water cooler, at the corner cafe, the parking lot, the internet, and everywhere in between. The question is are the stories being told within your organization today the right stories that clarify your desired culture?

Storytelling is one of the most effective and impactful methods for communicating the desired culture of your organization to its members. Stories serve to describe the behaviors and values that you want organization members to demonstrate, with each interaction, internally and externally, day in and day out.

The types of stories that are told around your organization are indicators of what is important to the organization’s members. If the right stories are being told and retold, your desired culture will get stronger. If the wrong stories are being told and retold, your desired culture will have a very tough time gaining traction.

Example of a Powerful Yet Lacking Story

This story doesn’t highlight the organization’s desired culture. One of my clients had shipped materials for an event to the coordinator in the hosting city. The coordinator checked the materials two days before the event started and discovered the wrong materials had been sent. The client scrambled to print the right materials and get them ready for shipment ASAP. Shipping required one of their staff to drive the boxes to the airport headquarters of their preferred shipper – just before the shipper’s 8pm deadline for accepting packages. The overnight shipment arrived at the hotel at 10:30am the next day, just hours before the event’s early afternoon start. The coordinator was thrilled – and the story began making the rounds, praising the graphic artists, the printers, the shipping crew, and the staff member who drove the boxes to the airport.

What’s wrong with this story? It deservedly celebrates great skill application and teamwork to solve the problem. However, this is a recovery story – the core issue is the problem should never have occurred in the first place! Quality testing would have noted the wrong materials were being prepared before they originally shipped . . . and no recovery would have been required. A lot of people had to drop what they were doing and address this issue; that’s a lot of hours spent. The overnight shipping charges alone were over $300! This was a costly recovery – and doesn’t present the desired culture this clients strives for, which is “doing it right the first time, every time!”

Elements of an Effective Story

Use these three criteria to identify stories that promote clarity and enthusiasm for your desired culture.

  • Be simple, brief, and clear.
  • Tell the story with passion for the values it demonstrates.
  • Elevate the desired values and behaviors by describing their application and their impact.

Effective stories can teach without lecturing. Be a proactive scout of great values stories in your work environment! Ensure the right stories, that reinforce your desired culture, have a long life within your organization.


Subscribe to Chris’ mobile updates, texted right to your smartphone! Text VALUES to 72000 or head here.


Chris’ new “Culture Leadership Charge” series and the rest of his video clips can be found on YouTube. Subscribe to Chris’ YouTube channel.


vimeo_logoChris’ new “Culture Leadership Charge” series and the rest of his video clips are also available on Vimeo. Subscribe to Chris’ Vimeo channel.


podcast_subscribeSubscribe to Chris’ posts via RSS.


itunes_subscribeListen to or subscribe to over 300 of Chris’ Culture Leadership Podcasts on iTunes.


The music heard on Chris’ podcasts is from one of his songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © 2005-2017 Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). He played all instruments, recorded all tracks, and mastered the final product for your listening pleasure.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, Chris will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, Chris only recommend products or services he uses personally and believes will add value to his readers. Chris is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

, ,

Comments are closed.

Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes