Wanted: Good homes for stories

Imagine that you’ve just witnessed a vivid example of something that’s right about your organization.  It could be a case of great teamwork, a client success story or an exciting innovation. What do you do next?

Perhaps you retell the story to your colleagues. If you’ve got the time, you might remember to put the experience into words and email it to others. Or maybe you decide to invest resources to develop and share this story formally across the organization and beyond.

Once you discover a great story, what do you do with it?

StoryBanks are a great place to start. As the name suggests, StoryBanking is a systematic process to collect, organize, and share stories. Stories represent one of the best ways to motivate, lead and grow your organization. Yet many organizations overlook potential business opportunities because they lack a central internal StoryBank. Storybanking isn’t just the repository itself, it’s also the mindset of an organization that continually learns.

Every step in the total StoryBanking process has unique benefits:

  • Story Mining: The mere act of regularly searching and listening for stories is positive in itself.  Learning how to Story Mine elevates everyone’s “story radar” as they look for instances of their colleagues overcoming challenges. Trying to catch people in the act “doing the right thing” builds community.
  • Story Banking: Stories need a place to live when they’re not being actively told. Otherwise, they may die of neglect.  A central, searchable database where anyone in the organization can easily input and view is knowledge management at its finest.   It could be as simple as text, or add audio and video upload options, too.
  • Story Organizing: Analyzing patterns allows leadership to see trends, strengths, and opportunities that could otherwise be missed.  There might be a recent deluge of positive stories from the international division, or across a certain product line or client segment. Why? Understanding these connections helps leaders to use stories purposefully rather than randomly.
  • Story Sharing: Don’t place those stories under lock and key! Leverage the appropriate stories internally to convey culture and best practices.  And share them externally to market the brand, increase sales, and win new client. Use in the widest variety of mediums: verbally, print, video, audio, web and so forth.

StoryBanking isn’t just for organizations. Individuals can benefit from a personal StoryBank, too.  I’ve found that it’s especially useful for the executive coaching clients with whom I consult.  A strategic toolkit of career stories can demonstrate the skills and behaviors that set one professional apart from all the rest.

So jot down some success stories of your own, then actively look for more in your organization next week.  Now, what’s your plan for them?

* Bank vault photo courtesy of John D. McDonald

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2 comments on “Wanted: Good homes for stories
  1. So how would you suggest a company storybank their stories. THey could store them in salesforce under library. But do you have other suggestions aside from your software program?

    • Andrew Nemiccolo says:

      Michael, Great question!

      There are lots of ways to bank stories, but before delving into the mechanics of it, the first thing to recognize is that a StoryBank is a mindset about how organizations use (or in many cases, don’t use) this wonderful asset of stories.

      There are myriad ways to think and organize a StoryBank, depending on how the org thinks about customers and itself.

      As challenging as it is to create a StoryBank, the bigger challenge is creating a culture in which stories are freely shared, refined, organized and stored for access. With that foundation, building and maintaining a StoryBank is attainable.

      1. Consider Audiences. Internal/External.

      2. Break audiences down further. Clients could be tagged and segmented by factors like: Geography, Language, Size, Adoption Cycle, etc.

      3. Determine relevant messages for the audience and keyword them, such as Speed, Value, Quality, Innovation, etc.

      4. Once the grid is complete, the goal is to fill in the blanks with relevant stories for that audience, with that message, in the appropriate format.

      5. Now you’re ready to StoryBank, and it can be done lots of ways, depending on the three factors of Audience, Message and Format.

      As you point out, Michael, CRM systems like Salesforce.com and others are getting more and more robust here, but there are low-tech methods, too! In addition to the excel file you mentioned and big CRM tools, here are just a few examples – the possibilities are endless! Regardless of the system, the point is to make stories accessible and easily shared whether they’re needed.

      A. Written client case studies searchable by anyone who visits the website.Videos searchable by anyone inside the organization

      B. Audio recordings of a salesperson telling his story that other sales reps can listen to prior to their own call

      C. A blog of success stories can serve as a StoryBank, too! When you think about it, many blogs already have a StoryBank quality to them, and are under-used in the sales process.

      D. Bullet point stories listed on a paper “job-aid” that a sales rep can use to remind himself or herself of a story to re-tell prior to a call

      Kinda cool, huh? What innovative uses of StoryBanks have you observed.

4 Pings/Trackbacks for "Wanted: Good homes for stories"
  1. [...] jQuery("#errors*").hide(); window.location= data.themeInternalUrl; } }); } sevenstorylearning.com – Today, 10:05 [...]

  2. [...] stories are vital in every professional’s StoryBank. That’s why failures are the first places I look when StoryMining with clients for ideas that can [...]

  3. [...] stories are vital in every professional’s StoryBank. That’s why failures are the first places I look when StoryMining with clients for ideas that can [...]

  4. [...] Certainly, “borrowed stories” that we find from other people should be part of any well-rounded storybank, but they usually can’t trump a relevant personal [...]

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