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Can stories change a culture?

Craig Wortmann (President & CEO of WisdomTools, Inc., Bloomington, Indiana, USA, and the author of the book What's Your Story?.)

Industrial and Commercial Training

ISSN: 0019-7858

Article publication date: 18 April 2008




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.


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.


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.


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.



Wortmann, C. (2008), "Can stories change a culture?", Industrial and Commercial Training, Vol. 40 No. 3, pp. 134-141.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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