Using Corporate Storytelling in Business to Drive Change

April 21st, 2022 by admin Leave a reply »

The year was 1998. I was in Lincoln, Nebraska at the Cornhusker Inn just down the road from the University of Nebraska. I was traveling the country with my keynote: The Positive Power of Change. This particular event was the annual meeting of a mid-sized tele-communications company.

I had been hired to speak at the annual meeting because it was clear to the leadership team that something had to be done to address the issue of change in an upbeat and positive manner. The executive in charge of planning the meeting saw my promo video and chose me because he liked a couple of my stories. He also liked the subtitle of my speech – Get Over It.

“That’s what we need someone to tell them Doug,” the president told me on the phone. “They just need to get over it. But they’ll take it better if it comes from you.”

I was scheduled to speak at 9:00 am. The president was going to go on before me to make a couple of big announcements and then introduce me. This is the gist of what he said: “You’ve all heard about the pending merger and that means a lot of things are going to change around here. What you don’t know is that next year, at our annual meeting, 25% of you will be gone. Now I know that’s hard for you to take, so we’ve brought in a motivational speaker to help you move forward. Please welcome Doug Stevenson.”

What would you do in a situation like that? 100% of the people in the room were now wondering if they were going to be part of the 25% that would be let go. They were in shock. I was in shock! Luckily for me, I was prepared with the only ammunition that had any chance of succeeding in that situation. I had my stories.

I don’t buy into the rationale that people fear change. They fear the loss of control that change often brings. All the logic in the world won’t persuade someone to embrace change if they’re feeling out of control. At that moment, this audience didn’t need someone telling them that change is good and that everything would work out fine. Those are just words. What they needed was a diversion – something that could shift their perception from bad to good; from chaos to control; from hopeless to hopeful.

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