Can stories change a culture?

Craig Wortmann*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Purpose - The paper seeks to identify why we need to get past the bits and bullets - e-mails, text messaging and PowerPoint presentations - and tell the full story. Story is the most powerful way to change a culture. By identifying with beliefs and behaviors, stories are shown as the lynchpin for social, economic, organizational, and individual change. Design/methodology/approach - This paper shows how cultural change is driven by stories and provides a process through which leaders can work to drive change within their own organizations using the Story Tools: WinBook, StoryMatrix and Story Coach, eScenes and Scenarios. Together the tools provide the framework for leaders to be more effective and consistent leaders. Findings - Stories are the most successful way to change a culture. By "adding back" context, stories carry success and failure messages, they allow us to reflect and learn by drawing us in, and finally stories influence us to create the right kinds of behavior. Practical implications - This paper offers practical tools for leaders to capture and tell stories that enhance their leadership skills, as well as offering insights into changing a company's culture. Originality/value - The originality of this approach to story lies in the story tools - StoryMatrix, Story Coach, WinBook, eScenes and Scenarios developed by the author and his company WisdomTools. The authors's book, What's Your Story? Using Stories to Ignite Performance and Be More Successful, provides the reader with more in-depth background on the original Story Tools.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)134-141
Number of pages8
JournalIndustrial and Commercial Training
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2008


  • Coaching
  • Organizational change
  • Organizational culture
  • Storytelling
  • Transformational leadership

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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