August 2, 2019 • History Factory
In this month’s excerpt of CEO Bruce Weindruch’s book, Start with the Future and Work Back: A Heritage Management Manifesto, Bruce Weindruch, we examine how the use of heritage and authentic content during a period of crisis can help assuage fears for both employees and clients.
“I don’t think one can overestimate to what degree the 2008 mortgage crisis and ensuing recession affected corporate America. To me, it was a little bit like an earthquake. Companies had been building so fast and so high and in so many different directions that they didn’t realize just how far they’d come.
Then 2008 hit. It was a shock. Some organizations fractured. Some came crashing down. But those that survived intact tended to come out of it feeling a great deal of anxiety. We saw an extraordinary uptick in calls from new and former clients, all of whom seemed to be saying the same thing: “We have to rebuild,” they told us. ‘We have to reconnect. We have to find some kind of solid ground to stand on before we push ahead again.’
I’ve seen this phenomenon before. Short bouts of uncertainty like this occurred in the early 1990s, after the dot-com bubble burst, and post-9/11. None of those situations, however, mirrored what happened after 2008.
Employees felt they didn’t have the kind of job security they thought they did. Client loyalty became more fragile. And companies looked for something, anything, that wouldn’t shift below their feet.
So they turned, as companies are prone to do in periods of uncertainty, to their history for guidance and assurance.
It was instinctual, like when you slam on your car brakes and you stretch your hand out to brace whoever is sitting in the passenger seat. History gave our clients that sense of protection.
And when companies slowed down for a moment, they realized that their history—all they’d accomplished in recent years—was right on top of them and they didn’t know what to do with it.
The history was just too close. It was a jumble. It was a blur. No one had a point of view on what was worth preserving and communicating and what wasn’t.
Which is when we showed up with our Start with the Future and Work Back philosophy and our suite of StoryARC, Clear Line of Sight and Solutions Mapping methodologies.
Following the Great Recession, we were called for more consultations than at any point in our history. Our job? Provide a little clarity to the blur.
We did what we always did. We helped companies see the relevance of their history. We showed them how to convert their historical content into engaging stories. We built archives, conducted oral history programs, wrote books, shot videos, developed digital content and created exhibits.
Then, we mapped out all the places and channels where they needed to send those stories: social media, internal microsites, recruiting materials, training modules—anywhere and everywhere they needed to go.”