I bet you can remember stories you were told when you were a kid that you haven’t heard for years. Or if I asked you to give me the basic plot outline for the film, When Harry Met Sally, I think you could probably do it.
But can you remember your company’s mission statement? Or worse, can you remember its Very Important List of Values?
The fact is that over 90% of employees can’t remember either.
But, of course, the point isn’t having a thousand employees robotically able to recite your mission statement. The point is a thousand employees knowing what you stand for and where you’re going. And the best way to accomplish that is to tell them a story.
One of our clients, lululemon, lists one of its core values as “fun.” The word is even in their mission statement. A legend now at lululemon is the 2006 opening of the Vancouver location on trendy Robson Street. They took out an ad promising that the first thirty people to show up naked at the opening would receive a free outfit. Over 50 people showed up naked that cold October morning. The event was seen as a huge success and lululemon received a surprisingly small amount of negative feedback.
Every employee at lululemon knows that story. It speaks to the company’s emphasis on fun exponentially more than having the word written down on a list of core values.
Even now that the company has over 100 stores across four continents, their culture remains remarkably intact because their employees have such a vibrant reserve of memorable stories to draw on when making decisions.