Organizational Storytelling

The World Needs More Good Writers

As a professional business writer, I’m constantly amazed at the lack of quality writing out there. I don’t mean just in the business world, but in virtually all areas of society. In the age of the computer, even spell check seems to be a bit lonely. There’s really no excuse for bad writing.

Yet everywhere I look, I see it. Misspelled words or names. Sentences that don’t make sense. Just this week, I read a report by a medical professional regarding a consultation. She misspelled the name of another physician so badly that I didn’t even recognize the person. If a respected medical professional can’t get that right, why would I trust them to perform a medical procedure? To me, detail is kind of important in an operating room.

As someone who is in daily communication with professionals, not everyone misses the mark. Yet I continue to see mistakes on websites, corporate communications materials, in emails and articles. Every day, I see errors watching the headlines on television in the spelling of basic words or names.

Now I know everyone is busy. We all have deadlines. I get it. But at least take the time to verify that a name is spelled correctly.

If you can’t take the time to run your content through spell check, then why would I trust that you or your brand would take the time to address my problems?

It seems that in an effort to guard the bottom line, many companies sacrifice quality for quantity. With so many experienced writers out there, there’s really no reason you can’t have the best of both worlds.

So the next time you’re looking for a professional writer, don’t hire the cheapest one. Or that referral from Uncle John (unless they fit the other criteria!). Hire someone who has some experience and really understands your business and your audience. Hire someone who has the ability to move an audience through words. Someone who can motivate people to take action. Just think about what impact that would have on your bottom line.

In our new and wondrous technological world, writing shouldn’t have to be a lost art. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to run my post through spell check!


(Photo courtesy Katherine Firth





Want An Effective Storytelling Strategy That Promotes Change? Ask Roger Martin

A recent blog post by Roger Martin on the Harvard Business Review website encourages organizations to stop being overanalytical in their approach to strategy - and to start using storytelling as a way of envisioning solutions that would make everyone happy.

Martin, Dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, describes how corporate strategists spend too much time using analytical techniques to strategy. These techniques often lead to paralysis and are bound to be idea killers. He encourages organizations to take the strategic planning process less seriously and to think about strategic options as being a "happy story about the future."

The storytelling process would be less analytical by using a holistic approach to envision a better result. The focus would be on the "how" and "what" questions - "How would we see ourselves winning?" "What would have to be true, for this to be a terrific choice?"

Stories are a great way for organizations to engage employees in the decision (and solution making) process. All too often, managers are fearful to take new approaches to solve the same organizational challenges. Perhaps by talking to one another, asking the right questions - and focusing on stories, organizations may just find that the solutions to their problems were inside them all the time.

Does your organization use storytelling as a strategic approach to problem solving? What barriers might restrict employees in conveying their story?