Will you follow through or fade out on your company history?

Every company lives a great story. Why do some tell it, while others stall?

So you’re fired up about chronicling your company’s history. You contact CorporateHistory.net and other vendors. You ask great questions, often noting that “we know we finally need to do it, because otherwise our history may be lost.” Yet a few months later, the fire goes out at your end. You fade out rather than follow through. And that history will indeed be lost. Why? Here are three reality checks, all of which can be faced with planning.

  1. Timing. Corporate histories take time to create, often a year or two, depending on scope. If someone says they can crank yours out faster, you’ll pay a bundle—and most likely you’ll still need to extend the deadline. Solution: Start early, especially if there’s a key business anniversary involved. And be realistic about the time needed within your own organization for review and feedback by busy executives.
  2. Cost. “Good, fast, cheap—pick any two.” That’s Truman’s Triangle, as unavoidable as the law of gravity. Corporate history development is not a job for amateurs. Your project will involve specialized research, interviewing, structuring, writing, art direction, and book production knowledge. Solution: Pay for professionals so the job gets done right the first time. Hiring a seasoned vendor also gets you a project manager who coordinates all those moving parts. Remember that the investment will unearth an accurate history timeline plus unique material for branding, social media, and those About Us website pages that may need a refresh. In the end, as a wise corporate communicator once said, “excellence costs no more than mediocrity.”
  3. Depth. You know how some people shy away from making a will? A similar dynamic can apply to corporate histories. Companies will be asked to look at the big picture. Leaders and selected team members will be asked to look back at their careers. Most find the process to be pride-inducing, deeply satisfying, surprising, and even exhilarating. But it can also meet resistance because it’s a reckoning of sorts. Solution: Hold hands and jump. If you don’t do it, it won’t get done. Most likely you’ll emerge like our client at The Clorox Company, who told us that in her 20 years at the company, “One of my favorite projects was working on our 100th anniversary. I will cherish our centennial history book forever! Thanks for all you did to make it so fabulous.”