How companies tell their backstories will be the critical business communication challenge of the next decade, Alex Steffen writes in a World Changing article.
Good companies are getting better at telling the backstories – everything that happened to get the object or service to a customer, everything that will happen behind the scenes when it’s used, and everything that will happen after it leaves a customer’s life – of the things they make.
Other companies, who don’t know how to tell their backstories or whose backstories are shameful, are in for trouble.
There are some practices smart companies should definitely avoid. Lying tops the list, but not much farther down is obscuring negatives by emphasizing positives. “Even when this doesn’t devolve into outright greenwashing, it risks being seen as such,” Steffen writes.
Vague goals are also dangerous “because they’re clueless.” Cluelessness about sustainability equals liability. Displaying such “muddle-headed thinking” send the message that your company is not trustworthy.
Want to get it right? According to Steffens, the path to managing a backstory runs through big visions, hard targets and open admission of shortcomings.