Corporate Legacy Books Are a Thing

So everyone in the company tells the same story

Photo by HIVAN ARVIZU @soyhivan on Unsplash

Imagine stepping into the break room to grab your lunch, only to hear the following conversation:

“Bill Freeman started the company in 1964 with the goal of helping provide shoes to children in need around the world. He created the first pair of shoes in his garage with his wife, Molly, and gave it to a poor child who lived across the street. That child was Michael Jordan, and that was his first pair of shoes. That’s why we have a men’s sneaker called ‘The Michael.’ ”

Bob confidently finishes his story, and the group of interns ooohs and ahhhs.

Until Melissa chimes in.

“Actually, I’m pretty sure that’s not exactly what happened. Bill started the company because he had a surplus of leather in his basement, which is where the workshop was, and I think their original mission statement was, ‘How can we get rich really fast?’ The first pair of shoes they ever made was a pair perfectly sized to fit his wife, Sally, which is why our classic size eight-and-a-half women’s shoes are called ‘Sallies.’ ”

Before long, the interns don’t know who to believe, Bob and Melissa are fighting forever, and nobody really knows how the company actually started.

Need I go on?

Your company needs a written corporate history for more than just training the annual interns. Why?

  • So everyone knows the company story.

When you have a team of people who all have a different idea of what the company is trying to do, the team isn’t going to be unified. It’ll be a group of people acting independently, just trying — and probably not succeeding — to get along.

But when everyone knows your story, there’s accountability, a sense of common drive, and plenty of synergy.

If everyone knows the company story, they’ll be ready to share it. They’ll know exactly why the company exists and what its main goals are. And when they’re at a conference, or in an elevator, or even just standing in line at the grocery store, they’ll have a ready response to tell someone else.

And employees convincing other people to become employees is a good way to keep your company healthy and growing.

From scenario one, Bob’s “Providing shoes to needy children” mission is radically different from Melissa’s “How can we get rich really fast?” goal. If your employees all believe something different about the company story and mission statement, mission promotion will fizzle because they’ll all be promoting different missions!

A written history will help your employees know exactly what the mission is and how they can help the company stay on track.

And — when you reach an important milestone, like 10-, 20-, 40- or 50-year anniversaries or corporate celebrations like reaching 200 percent of your sales goals for the year, what better way to celebrate than with a beautiful copy of your company’s story?

Before long, Bob and Melissa in the break room will be telling the interns the exact same story.

An earlier version of this story was originally published at shattered.biz.

Published author, freelance writer and editor, biking enthusiast, and blogger at annelieserider.com.