Storytelling: Cultural Change in 2 Steps

Noch einmal Harvard Business: Kurz und bündig auf den Punkt gebracht, worum es in Corporate Cultures geht und was es braucht, um diese zu verändern. Nämlich positive, reale Geschichten aus der Mitte des Unternehmens, die den Kern der gewünschten Kultur in sich tragen und es wert sind, weitererzählt zu werden.

Hier ein Auszug:

Peer pressure.

We tend to conform to the behavior of the people around us. Which is what makes culture change particularly challenging because everyone is conforming to the current culture. Sometimes though, the problem contains the solution.

„Stories.“ I said to the head of the firm.

„Excuse me?“ he responded.

„You change a culture with stories. Right now your stories are about how hard you work people. Like the woman you forced to work on her wedding day. You may not be proud of it, but it’s the story you tell. That story conveys your culture simply and reliably. And I’m certain you’re not the only one who tells it. You can be sure the bride tells it. And all her friends. If you want to change the culture, you have to change the stories.“

I told him not to change the performance review system, the rewards packages, the training programs. storytellingDon’t change anything. Not yet anyway. For now, just change the stories. For a while there will be a disconnect between the new stories and the entrenched systems promoting the old culture. And that disconnect will create tension. Tension that can be harnessed to create mechanisms to support the new stories.

To start a culture change all we need to do is two simple things:

  1. Do dramatic story-worthy things that represent the culture we want to create. Then let other people tell stories about it.
  2. Find other people who do story-worthy things that represent the culture we want to create. Then tell stories about them.

For example, if you want to create a faster moving, less perfectionist culture, instead of berating someone for sending an email without proper capitalization, send out a memo with typos in it.

Or if you want managers and employees to communicate more effectively, stop checking your computer in the middle of a conversation every time the new message sound beeps. Instead, put your computer to sleep when they walk in your office.

Or if you’re trying to create a more employee-focused culture, instead of making the bride work on her wedding day, give her the week off.

We live by stories. We tell them, repeat them, listen to them carefully, and act in accordance with them.

We can change our stories and be changed by them.

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Michael Kucht von changekomm

Michael Kucht begleitet seit vielen Jahren Strategie- und Changeprozesse. In diesem Blog teilt er Beobachtungen, Wissen und Erfahrungen.
Change Kommunikation ist ein interdisziplinärer Ansatz, verstanden als Fortsetzung der Internen Kommunikation und Führungskommunikation mit den Mitteln des Change Managements.

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