Tuesday, 17 June 2014 15:53

Improve Internal Controls through Storybooks Featured

Written by
Rate this item
(0 votes)

Improve Internal Controls through Storybooks

As the Controller of XYZ Corp., Sue is a proponent of Management by Walking Around. One morning, as she was strolling through the offices and checking in with her staff, she noticed several people on the Internet, engrossed in personal business. One employee was looking over his portfolio of investments and another was shopping at a well-known women’s store—clearly not job-related activities!

As Sue returned to her desk, her frustration grew. Just the month before, she and the rest of the executive team had issued a policy defining the parameters for using company access to the Internet. Obviously, the new policy was not being followed despite memos and a series of meetings to explain the policy.

“I just witnessed about $5,000 in lost productivity in one walk,” Sue thought. “There must be a more effective way to convey the message about what’s expected. What we’re doing is definitely not working.”

Does this sound like your company or your clients? Are you tired of reiterating the same policy messages—only to have them fall on deaf ears again and again? If this situation is one of the frustrations that you deal with on a regular basis, take heart: there is a powerful solution to the problem that will significantly enhance adherence to your policies.

The solution is innovative, easier to implement than a policy manual that gets ignored, and effectively shapes behavior. It is an approach that has been called managing by ‘storying around.’

Disney Corporation is known for its storytelling for entertainment, but did you know that the company also uses stories to manage its operations?

So do companies such as FedEx, The Container Store and Armstrong International, whose stories have been featured in past issues of this Corporate Storytelling e-zine. The reason is simple: people pay far more attention to stories than to boring policy manuals. The fascination with stories does not end with childhood. We all are drawn to, connect with and remember stories that relate to our own experiences.

“Santa Claus keeps track all year of who’s been good and who hasn’t. Unless you’re good, he won’t leave any of the things on your list; he’ll leave you a lump of coal instead.” Remember how that story motivated you to be aware of your behavior and to try your best to be on Santa’s "good” list? This is one simple example of the power of story in shaping behavior.

At Armstrong International, stories have been used since 1988 to shape desired behavior—without a policy manual in sight! Stories have proven to be so effective in modeling the behavior that management wants, as soon as a new collection of stories is issued, employees dig into them like the latest best seller. They even take them home to read immediately!

The proof of the storytelling system is clear: People use the stories to guide their own decision-making—and to remind one another of Armstrong's way of doing business.

Note: Ron Rael, The Corporate Culture Coach, and Evelyn co-presented an executive briefing for CPAs on using story to maintain internal controls. According to Ron, himself a CPA, “the cost to implement this system is far less than developing policy manuals. And, as a number of leading companies have proven, it works!” For more information on Ron’s culture coaching services, go to

Click here to return to the index of Articles

Read 445 times Last modified on Sunday, 14 November 2021 20:02

Comments powered by CComment

Latest Posts

  • The Creative Industry Needs to Look at Things Differently Post Budget 2022
    On 29 October 2021, the Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz tabled Budget 2022 in the Malaysian parliament. RM50 million has been allocated for the arts and culture industry. This comes after a year and a half after the entire industry came to an absolute standstill. With…
  • ‘The Covid Positives’ – life lessons learnt from the pandemic by Phanindra Ivatury
    After a long drawn battle with the biggest catastrophe in our living memory, global humanity is finally getting to see some quintessential ray of light at the end of the treacherous tunnel in the form of COVID-19 vaccines, currently being rolled out to all parts of the globe. A ‘COVID-19…
  • Chaos of Whole Books
    Is it possible to read several books at once? Aneeta Sundararaj finds out. When I was a child, my cousin used to boast that he could read four storybooks at a time. As an adult, when he invested in an e-Reader, he continued to boast that he could…
  • Writing for You? Or for Me?
    Writing for You? Or for Me? ‘You must always write with your reader in mind.’ This was one of the first pieces of advice that I received when I began my writing career. Honestly, I found this extremely hard to do because more often than not, I couldn’t picture my…
  • One Book That Changed My Writing Life
    My latest novel, The Age of Smiling Secrets was shortlisted for two categories in the Book Award 2020 organised by the National Library of Malaysia. When I reflected on the journey that this book has taken, I acknowledged the enormous influence of one of my all-time favourite books, Joseph Anton:…