The following blog is the second in a three-part series that examines how storytelling helps drive change. This first segment considered how leaders tasked with driving change can use stories and narrative to shape the direction of business transformation. The current feature invites leaders to use digital storytelling to help transform the employee experience in their organizations.
Your marketing team has likely made storytelling an integral component of its digital campaigns for external audiences. Is the power of the story an essential part of your digital agenda for internal audiences?
Digital storytelling – the use of digital media to deliver stories that engage a virtual audience with maximum emotional impact – can help transform employee experience and make your organization perpetually change-ready. Use digital storytelling to shape human-centric experiences, and watch how much faster your employees embrace the new and unfamiliar.
Three Ways Digital Storytelling Engages Employees
Digital technology has revolutionized our experience of stories. Video gamers know this perhaps better than anyone. The popular game ‘Red Dead Redemption 2′ has earned praise for its lush, immersive, and emotionally engaging narrative. The power of digital can similarly enrich the experiential value of stories in your organization. Following are three ways you can ramp up employee engagement through digital storytelling.
- Collaborative Storytelling: Engagement through Trust
Digital stories have a high degree of resonance when produced through a collaborative process, in which participants and facilitators strive together to employ innovative forms of creative communication and expression. Video is a popular form of collaborative storytelling, which is often used to drive social change by giving voice to those with the most significant stake in the envisioned transformation. Samwel Nangiria explains this use of digital storytelling in an InsightShare video.
Consider the following example of collaborative digital storytelling in a corporate change context. Hundreds of experienced and high-value employees at a financial services client recently underwent a re-badging process as part of a managed services transformation. Several of those employees worked with Infosys Consulting digital storytelling experts to describe their re-badging experience and relate how it felt to undergo this transformational change.
The value of this storytelling effort was twofold. First, narrating their re-badging expertise to a wide broad audience gave the storytellers themselves a powerful voice in the transition. It re-affirmed their sense of purpose and value in the organization. Second, the stories they told gave other re-badged employees the courage to venture into the unknown with hope instead of fear. On hearing the human experience of hope related in different voices and from different perspectives, minds once closed by fear and doubt were opened to unthought possibilities.
The ultimate benefit of the digital storytelling project was to instill trust in the re-badging process by transcending corporate fluff and presenting a humanely relatable message. The audience could sense that the re-badging experiences told by other employees were personal and real.
- Immersive Storytelling: Engagement through Empathy
Immersive storytelling takes collaborative stories to the next level. This type of digital storytelling invites the reader directly into the narrative space by blending the physical world with virtual or augmented reality. It allows them to participate in the unfolding story. If you want to capture and hold your audience’s attention, immersive storytelling is a powerful approach.
An example of immersive storytelling is Clouds Over Sidra, a 2015 virtual reality film about a twelve-year-old Syrian girl named Sidra in the Za’Atari refugee camp in Jordan. It follows her from her family’s tent to school and numerous other places in the camp throughout the day. As we watch the film on a computer or mobile device, we can move our cursor to get a 360-degree view of Sidra’s world.
When building customer relationships, employee experience is enriched by exposure to immersive, customer-focused digital stories. Charts and graphs from a customer survey are helpful, but stories reveal the human desires, pain points, and aspirations behind the data. The empathy elicited by customer stories leads to a deeper understanding of customer needs, which translates into meaningful process improvement and product innovation.
- Open-ended Storytelling: Engagement through Self-Invention
Employee experience is an open-ended narrative comprised of the stories we tell ourselves about our possible future(s). Behind these personal narratives is a drive for self-invention, which inspires today’s skills revolution. Effective employee engagement means eliciting and developing these open-ended stories – unique, diverse, idiosyncratic – that form the beating heart of employee experience.
Digital storytelling builds upon the open-endedness of employee experience in powerful ways beyond what’s possible in traditional storytelling media. The participatory and immersive possibilities of digital technology enable employees to decide how their stories unfold in real-time. What better way to motivate value-creating behavior and internalize the case for change?
The following case story illustrates our point.
Digital Storytelling in Action: Fearless Sales Associates and the Perils of CMD
A retail client undertook a project to improve and maintain the quality of its customer master data (CMD). In-store sales associates (SAs) were on the frontline interacting with customers while also pulling up, updating, and creating data. The new CMD system required new in-store behaviors by SAs to sustain the right level of vigilance over CMD quality. To ensure SA engagement and commitment, the organizational change management (OCM) team implemented a digital storytelling approach with SA experience at the heart of the narrative.
In-store personas – clusters of impacted CMD users sharing the same roles, responsibilities, and attitudes – formed the heart of the CMD storyline. The OCM team interviewed SAs (along with other in-store users). It fleshed out the personas in a humanizing way, using direct quotes to reflect how SAS felt about the impact of technology on their interactions with customers.
Story elicitation was a vital ingredient of the interview process and evolved into a series of videos that linked CMD business goals to the personas and employee experience. The first video evoked all the pain points and aspirations expressed in the SA interviews. It sparked curiosity and planted the seeds for active viewership. The remainder of the video series detailed the knowledge and in-store behavior changes required to enable a successful CMD project implementation.
The series was hosted on the client’s digital learning platform, which enabled distribution and tracking of uptake of the digital narrative. At the same time, FAQs and the project’s Change Network supported and reinforced messaging. The CMD digital storytelling effort helped paint the WIIFM picture needed to prompt the shift in mindsets and behaviors that delivered the business value of the CMD project. Most important, the SAs experienced technology-driven change as an open-ended narrative in which their actions would drive the outcome.
Story and narrative are at the heart of employee experience, perhaps more than ever in today’s remote, virtualized, and digital work environments, where the human connection is sorely needed. Does your employee engagement strategy take the human, experiential side of digital transformation to heart? Stories are the heartbeat of change. Now is the time to make digital storytelling an integral part of your digital agenda.
Case studies referenced in this blog were provided by the following digital storytelling experts:
- Kelly Rogers-Delgado, Senior Principal, Infosys Consulting Talent & Organization
- Dan Page, Principal Consultant, Infosys Consulting Talent & Organization
- Kristina Witt, Senior Principal, Infosys Consulting Talent & Organization
Principal Consultant, Infosys Consulting
David Welch is a Principal Consultant in the Infosys Consulting Talent & Organization practice. He has over 20 years’ experience in the learning & development profession, helping organizations drive change through learning strategy, curriculum design, content development, change management, and communication.