Telling and Creating Your Story

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by umjanedoan

From a conversation with a good friend and colleague, and reading this article, I have been thinking about the role of the story in our organizations.

Here are some questions for you to consider:

What is the story that you are trying to create or are creating?  What is your “why” and how are you making it happen?

If you can you answer these questions, is it succinct?  Is it easy to understand?  Does it make sense to people both in and out of your organization?  If you can tell me the story of your school, can others?

But it isn’t just about telling your story…it is more importantly about creating it.  In the article about great companies being “storydoers”, the author talks about what those companies do differently:

  1. They have a story
  2. The story is about a larger ambition to make the world or people’s lives better
  3. The story is understood and cared about by senior leadership outside of marketing
  4. That story is being used to drive tangible action throughout the company: product development, HR policies, compensation, etc.
  5. These actions add back up to a cohesive whole
  6. Customers and partners are motivated to engage with the story and are actively using it to advance their own stories

Now although the focus is business related, it definitely can be used in the context of school.  Both the elements of telling and creating your story are imperative, but one does not come before the other.  They continuously feed one another.

For example, your story and narrative grows over time as it should in any organization.  Blockbuster’s story did not change and they have no story at all.  Yet words without actions mean nothing.  If you tell a story that is false, that will simply lose the faith of those that you serve.  Creating that story then leads to telling your story.  The more you tell your story, the more you are accountable to creating it.  It goes round and round and round.

Sometimes the story of the “organization” starts in a single classroom, but the importance is that it starts.  Sharing what is happening in one place in a compelling way, is how that story starts to spread.  Having it spread, creates a stronger story.  It grows and grows.

So tell your story, but don’t forget the accountability you have to continuously create it.