Archive for January, 2014

Corporate Story Collections Essential as Boomers Retire

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

Any organization that hasn’t yet started to systematically collect its “sacred bundle” of stories is going to lose a priceless treasure of knowledge when the last of the Baby Boom generation retires in the next 20 years or so. Born between 1946 and 1964, Boomers started exiting the workplace in the late ’90s and those who continue working until age 70 will be gone by 2034.

As Daniel Burrus wrote in his blog Monday, the retirement of Boomers is a Burrus Hard Trend™ — one that’s based on “measurable, tangible, and fully predictable facts, events, or objects.” His proprietary Hard Trend system is used by many top companies, such as Deloitte, Lockheed Martin and IBM, to forecast future needs and develop strategic plans. Soft Trends, he says, are projections that “might happen: a future maybe. Soft Trends can be changed, which means they provide a powerful vehicle to influence the future and can be capitalized on.”

So the fact that Boomers are retiring is a Hard Trend, the best-selling author, innovation expert and global futurist says. A reasonable projection based on that fact “would be which companies will implement a system to collect knowledge from them” and “implement a knowledge-sharing network” before they go. Systematically collecting and cataloguing stories is an effective way to capture and manage knowledge, as some consulting firms have learned and many corporations are catching on.

The Environmental Protection Agency is first organization I’m aware of that began a story collection when it realized it was about to lose a vast amount of valuable knowledge due to retirements. The people who began leaving 30 years following the founding of the agency carried with them not only nuggets of the developing culture, but the details of the early years. Those details include how regulations were established, why they were written as they were, and the intitial dreams as well as the stated long-term goals. To capture that knowledge, the EPA began shooting a series of video interviews with legacy employees so that following generations could learn from them “first-hand,” in a sense, by “sitting in” on the interviews.

What is your organization doing to preserve the knowledge stored in the minds of the “elders”? Their experiences encapsulate invaluable information about the history of the company; the major challenges and how they were overcome; the main characters; and tales about everyday experiences that enliven the culture through the years.

If you haven’t yet begun to capture the stories, get started before it’s too late! If you need help, a Corporate Storytelling® workshop will give the foundation for identifying, developing and telling your core stories. Follow-on writing and coaching services will help you establish a solid base collection and keep the program on track.

Capture your stories before all that valuable knowledge walks out the door! And tell them often. Stories live only when they’re told.

21st Century Business Culture Requires Soft Skills

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

According to branding expert and best-selling author Dan Schawbel, 61% of managers value soft skills over hard skills. If you haven’t yet developed and honed your own soft skills, including the ability to tell your own unique story, this book promises to be a valuable guide, outlining what it takes to build a successful career in new business culture of the 21st Century.

Soft skills include effective interpersonal communication (listening as well as speaking or writing), the ability to prioritize work and handle conflicts, and basic traits such as having a positive attitude. As Schawbel explains in his latest book, Promote Yourself: The New Rules for Career Success, having these skills and being able to brand and promote yourself is more crucial today than ever due to the dynamics of the internet, social media, and a non-stop 24/7 business schedule.   

Schawbel’s book explains how to navigate this new environment as an employee. Based on his own research on the current workplace, he details outdated standards and details how to succeed despite economic uncertainty and the need to constantly adapt.

Among the topics Schawbel covers in this book are how to use your current job as a platform for landing a better one; today’s new rules for the workplace; the need for continuing education; and how to use social media appropriately. He explains the disconnect between Gen Y and their managers and posits that the awareness of your own unique strengths and the ability to differentiate yourself are crucial.

Stephen R. Covey, who rose to fame with his first best-seller, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, says “Schawbel’s book is a game-changer for any employee who is looking to get ahead at work. It reveals the skills and strategies that will turn you into a future leader.”

WestJet Enlivens A Great Corporate Story

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

Even communication professionals are sometimes hard pressed to bring their corporawestjet-logote core stories to life. How much detail do I need to include–of the situation, the main character,or the outcome? How do I identify stories that will enliven our core message? And how do I know which story to tell at a given time to convey a particular message to a specific audience?

WestJet’s wonderful holiday video is a charming example of how a creative idea can not only enliven the corporate story but also engage viewers and touch the heart of every single person who watches it. It’s a fun wrap-up to the best memories of the Christmas season as we forge ahead into 2014.

Watch it and let me know how it made you feel and what you think about WestJet, whether or not you’ve ever flown their airline or ever will! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIEIvi2MuEk