It’s our story, so let’s write it well

Author - Courtney Hiles

Date published:

The Chamber’s latest column for The Journal by Rhiannon Bearne, executive director – policy & representation and deputy CEO.

Steve Jobs, former CEO of Apple, said: “The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller. The storyteller sets the vision, values and agenda of an entire generation that is to come…”

I love that quote because it reflects something I firmly believe. The strongest, most effective organisations are those that tell stories – about what is happening or what needs to happen – well.

Stories tend to stay in the memory because they are one of our earliest forms of communication. We move on from nursery rhymes, fairy tales and bedtime stories to the narratives we build to describe our lives and journeys.

Why we took that job when we did.

The funny story that brought you and your partner together.

The grand narrative about the dramatic family falling out with a storyline to rival East Enders.

That’s probably why one of the things I enjoy most about my job is hearing stories from businesses and organisations right across the North East. I’ve never forgotten, in the middle of last year’s energy crisis, finding out one firm had taken the opportunity to add over 400 solar panels on to its premises – a great story about adapting and evolving. Or the leader who first made me understand how values rather the KPIs and success measures were really at the heart of high performing organisations. And I really enjoyed finding an old piece of strategy work from January 2020 with some great ideas about what might be coming down the line but perhaps, unsurprisingly, hadn’t quite identified a global pandemic as a likely prospect.

I guess we can’t get every story right.

The North East narrative is well known – from Greggs to Sage to the Great North Run, our strong story is already writ large. But for organisations like the Chamber, the challenge is to work with our members on the next story for our region – the vision for the North East in five or even 30 years.

So that even more businesses, organisations and people will be part of our story in the years to come.

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