Every organization has its "WOW stories"--those stories that illustrate an important value for the organization or that reinforce critical messages. Those organizations that are deliberate about capturing these stories have a great opportunity to harness them for learning, as Shawn Callahan points out in this post on storytelling.
In his post, Shawn shares this article in Business Week on the Ritz Carlton and how they use storytelling with their employees on a daily basis:
Every manager and front-line employee of the Ritz-Carlton carries a laminated card with 12 service values guidelines that are intended to help employees create the mystique that attracts luxury travelers. For example: I build strong relationships and create Ritz-Carlton guests for life (No. 1), or: I am proud of my professional appearance, language, and behavior (No. 10). The Ritz-Carlton is not alone in creating rules or guidelines to keep employees focused on the company's values and mission, but the Ritz-Carlton does stand apart in how it reinforces those values with every employee, every day.
Each day at every Ritz-Carlton around the world, employees from every department gather for a 15-minute meeting, known as a "lineup," to review guest experiences, resolve issues, and discuss ways to improve service. These lineups are unlike most meetings held on any given day in most corporations. Once basic housekeeping items are out of the way, most of the rest of the time is spent reinforcing one of the 12 service values. How is it done? By employing the most powerful communications technique available: storytelling. . .
During the lineup, someone reads what is known as the "wow story" of the day. The same story is shared across hotels in 21 countries, so a waiter in Boston will hear the same story as a concierge in Bali; a housekeeper in Shanghai will hear the same story as a doorman in Hong Kong. The stories single out a staff person who went above and beyond—offering exemplary service to help create the mystique that turns luxury travelers into repeat guests.
The practice itself is a great one, but after Tuesday's post on video as community builder, it occurs to me that WOW stories could be made even more powerful through social media.
- Imagine recording an audio or video of such a story--perhaps including the comments of the customers who were the participants in the WOW experience. This could then be posted on a blog, open to comments and further discussion by employees. You could also email each day's story to your employees as a daily quick reminder of what you're looking for.
- Ritz Carlton uses the practice to illustrate their 12 key values. If you posted multimedia stories to a blog, through tagging you could organize a series of stories related to each value and then re-purpose those into new hire training modules that provided illustrations of how to live out these values at work.
- Depending on your organization and the nature of your WOW stories, you could post at least some of your stories to a public blog that's shared with customers. This could, in turn, open a dialogue between employees and customers that could be incredibly motivating and dynamic.
Note--If you're interested in pursuing this idea, I highly suggest taking a look at Ira Glass's videos on story-telling (Part One is above).
This seems to me like a powerful practice with a lot of possibilities. How could you adapt this idea for your organization or even for your own personal practice?