Five reasons to chronicle your past.
Recently, we teamed up with Heartland Financial USA, Inc. to bring its 80-plus-year history alive in book form. We looked at every historical asset we could find to make sure the institution’s story was told with the same care that grew the company at large.
As we discovered the people and moments that shaped this more than $10-billion enterprise, we saw over eight decades of culture come together in a single artifact. Many on both sides of the project were amazed as the past took a tangible form, making the legendary become immortal.
Here are five reasons why a history book is the perfect celebration of longevity and evolution within your company.
1. HONOR YOUR ORIGINS
Memories become increasingly hazy as a company gets farther away from its inception. A company history book documenting the folklore of the people who were there is a great way to bring those beginnings into sharp focus. As the old proverb says, “The faintest ink is better than the strongest memory.”
For companies that have been around a long time, the founders and original crew might already be once or twice removed. Physical materials and keepsakes can (with luck) still be found and used to tell your company’s story. The trials and tribulations related in oral history deserve that same clarity, not a game of telephone.
2. FIT INTO THE WORLD
It’s impressive to see where a company has been, from the ups and downs and in-betweens. Even more impressive is being able to see how a company fits into its community, region, and the world at large.
It only makes sense that your story is part of a larger story, and by providing societal and economic context alongside your journey, you can deepen the impact of your company’s progression. A history book is a great way to set your company against a ubiquitous backdrop, deepening the impact of every movement.
3. SHOW OFF YOUR BRAND
Telling people that you take pride in your history is a great way to show that you understand and appreciate what it takes to make it all happen. Writing it down conveys a whole other level of importance.
A history book is a collection of memories and a documentation of the framework that makes your company intrinsically yours. Beyond that, it’s a way to strut around a little bit. You and so many others have worked hard to be worthy of having your history chronicled, so write it down and revel in the fanfare.
4. DEEPEN YOUR UNIQUE CULTURE
What good is a company without the people? Your team’s professional accomplishments, challenges, and wonderfully human stories are the bedrock of your company’s personality.
For employees past, present, and future to be able to look through history and see themselves in it is a very powerful way to build loyalty and kindness. Show how your company is special outside of quotas and reports by focusing on how work was more than just a paycheck for people.
5. STUDY THE JOURNEY
A company history book will appeal to those flipping through with a passing interest, but its value increases when it’s able to be used as a deep dive into the mythos of the organization. After all, to know where you’re going, you need to know where you’ve been.
The past is many things, but above all else it’s a foundation upon which to build the future. Being able to see the values of the culture, as exemplified through the stories of the people who built it, can help future leaders understand the thinking that made the company successful and ideally emulate that themselves.
Whether you were there from the beginning or are generations removed, the effort required to establish, grow, and position your organization for the future is beyond admirable. Take pride in your company’s evolution and honor it by preserving the people and stories that made it possible.