Simple Question, Big Meaning

You’ve probably heard it before. People will often ask you a simple question that sounds a bit like this:

“So, how did you start?”.

Or if they haven’t asked it yet, they are probably wondering about it.

In any case, what people want to know then is your “origin story”.

What seems like a trivial and straightforward question has profound implications.

I like to think of your origin story as the seed of your company.

Here is why:

It is the story of the very begging of your company.

It is probably the most valuable story, upon which all future stories and events hinge.

It is where we find the first traces of your “company DNA”, a metaphor that Gareth Morgan, in a 1997 book, defined as the "visions, values, and a sense of purpose that bind an organization together" to enable individuals to "understand and absorb the mission and challenge of the whole enterprise".

Just like the seed of a tree eventually disappears in soil, as the company grows, the origin story gets buried in our minds and disappears amongst the uncoordinated system of stories that form around our company.

But that’s where the metaphor stops working.

Plants, like all other known living organisms, pass on their traits using DNA.

Organizations, on the other hand, pass on their traits through stories. And those stories disappear if we don’t continuously explore and share them. Therefore, we need to remind the group about why they started collaborating in the first place.

Think about religious institutions, for instance. They assemble at least once a week, if not every day, to repeat and re-engage with the profound reason why they exist.

The company DNA seems to disappear if we ignore protecting, documenting, and regenerating it.

Write your Origin Story

In The Strategic Narrative Workshop, we start our exploration of the four stories of the Strategic Narrative framework with the Origin Story.

Whether you’re the company founder or not, your origin story is a fundamental piece that matters because people are curious about the profound reason why your business came to exist in the first place.

If you want to make people excited about an idea, they need to know why you are excited about that idea in the first place.

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