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Founder myths

 

Disciplines > Storytelling > Storytelling in organizations > Founder myths

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

Stories are often told the people who started the company.

These may include stories from before they founded the company, including formative tales from their childhood or former employers.

They may give indication of the values of the founders and what they found important. They may also effectively model ways of behaving and thinking that others should follow.

Example

When I worked for Agilent Technologies, I was chatting with a group of friends in the corporate headquarters when a chap comes up and joins in the chatter. After he left, I asked 'was that the CEO'. 'Yes' said a friend, 'he's one of the nicest guys. He always wants to know what you're working on. If you're working late, he'll often come around with coffee and biscuits.'

It was told at Littlewoods that founder John Moores was known to sack people over the public address system, with sarcastic language such as 'Would Mr. Jim Evanston please come to reception, where Mr. Moores would personally like to give him his cards.'

Discussion

Founders have a unique position something akin to the parent who 'gives life' to a child. They thus stand in the parent or grandparent position and command particular respect.

Understanding the personality of founders helps to understand the culture of the present company, much of which may still reflect the founding values and style.

Founders often help the process of understanding them by writing autobiographies, from which particular stories may be spread longer-term through the company.

See also

Genesis stories

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