When you’re presenting your company or brand, what kind of story do you tell?
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. We’ve recently brought some new team members on board and all of them have to be brought up on our company’s story. I’m not talking about our “elevator pitch” but who we are, where we came from and what we’re hoping to achieve (both in business and life).
For me, this had never required much thought before. I’m one of the founders of our company and I’ve experienced every part of the Zemoga story so far (or at least a significant chunk of it). I can talk about our first clients, the early days when we we had a small team who would work crazy hours to get projects done, and the thrill and excitement of being part of the dot.com boom, bomb and recovery. But one of the challenges we face as a young, rapidly growing company is getting that information out of the heads of old timer’s like me and in to a form that can easily be shared with our team members and client partners.
And our challenge is relatively minor when compared to larger companies with longer histories. It wouldn’t surprise me if a significant part of Apple’s workforce doesn’t know the stories of the Newton or the purchase of the BeOS (heck I’ve been doing this so long I remember the Lisa and the Quadra). Going even further back, how many IBM employees know that there company was originally founded to create tabulating machines for the 1890 Census? I admit that I’m freakishly obsessed with this stuff (the HISTORY CHANNEL is always on in my house and I’ll happily explain to you the origins words like “stevadore” or “ragamuffin”). But that obsession is born of the realization that the past produces the future.
Countless times we’ve been able to generate innovative ideas for a client that had their roots in earlier projects. And on numerous occasions clients have switched companies, remembered work that we had either done for them or that they saw in our portfolio and engaged us on a new project.
Sadly, the opposite can also be true. We’ve seen productive partnerships disappear when layoffs or restructuring have led to the loss of contacts on the client side. And that’s something that hurts all parties involved. We obviously lose business. But more importantly we lose the countless hours that have been invested in the relationship and the knowledge base that we’ve built up regarding the client’s brand and business objectives is no longer utilized. That knowledge base and our technical capabilities are valuable resources for the client as well. And when they lose resources because they’ve lost staff, it costs the company time and money.
So myself and the other members of the management team at Zemoga have decided that chronicling our story needs to be one of our key business objectives for the year. It’s going to be an integral part of everything we do from public facing materials like collateral, our company website and even this blog to internal networks and training materials. We know that harnessing the accumulated knowledge and lessons of the past decade will help spur creativity and innovation and we can’t wait to see how the newer members of our team are inspired by the Zemoga story. If nothing else, the pictures of my ’90s haircuts will keep them amused.
As we progress further in to the era of instantaneous response and “living in the now”, it’s more important than ever to make sure that we keep track of what’s going on and take the time to review it every now and then. Every great strategist in history has been a student of history. We all need to take that lesson to heart and look to the past if want to accurately predict future needs and demands.
How much do you know about your company’s history? How is your organization preserving and harnessing it’s institutional memory?