The Power of Storytelling

Felber PR & Marketing, “Adventures in Marketing” –
Storytelling is a powerful tool that all manufacturing companies should adopt in order to engage its audience. Rather than presenting news and facts, a leader or a representative of the company can “present important organizational information in a way that resonates with people, engages their imagination and stimulates commitment and enthusiasm.” Do you have a story to share? Check out this story’s seven rules for telling good stories.

Miguel Ferrer – Manufacturing Executive member

Storytelling is the art of creating or delivering a narrative—a description of events that people can relate to, learn from, and remember. Stories are powerful tools because they do more than merely convey information: They are a meaningful and enjoyable way to share ideas, lessons, and values. Good stories are persuasive, appealing, and a good way to shape an organization’s culture. Leaders throughout history have relied on storytelling as an effective means of motivating others, especially during times of uncertainty and rapid change. Stories are far more persuasive and effective than abstract concepts.

Rather than presenting sterile, mundane data, a manager or leader can present important organizational information in a way that resonates with people, that engages their imagination and stimulates commitment and enthusiasm. This is because emotional content is inherent in stories, which adds another dimension to the communication process. Stories capture our imaginations. They evoke sights, sounds, smells, and other sensory experiences that the presentation of abstract concepts or data simply cannot. Storytelling is one of the ways to handle the principal—and most difficult—challenges of leadership: sparking action, getting people to work together, and leading people into the future.

The right story at the right time can help an organization get ready for a new idea and course of action. Storytelling doesn’t replace analytical thinking; it supplements it by enabling us to imagine new perspectives and new worlds.
But just how does one tell a good story? Here is a list of some basic rules that any storyteller can follow to achieve maximum effect with his or her story:

1. The story should be about a real person. Using a real person makes the story more credible to your audience.

2. The story should have a strong sense of time and place. This puts the story into a context that people can relate to and will remember: “Two years ago when I was manager of Snuffy’s Restaurant in Toledo, Ohio. . . .”

3. The story should be focused, simple, and clear. Too much detail and rambling will cause your audience to lose interest.

4. The story should be told in colorful and animated language. This engages the audience’s imagination and captures interest.

5. A good story uses emotions carefully and powerfully. Empathy, surprise, meaningful insight, compassion and even tactful and controlled outrage will engage your audience’s attention. It is emotional content that separates raw, boring data from a good illustration of the story’s point.

6. Along with emotions, you can also use gestures to add emphasis and a touch of theatre. After all, storytelling is a performance art.

7. Be yourself. Be authentic and sincere. You want people to believe you.

Storytelling, when done right, is truly one of the most powerful and effective tools for engaging and inspiring people to get behind a vision or mission. Stories help create the culture that becomes the heart and soul of the organization.

The Power of Storytelling‘ was originally posted in the Manufacturing Executive community page.

Lean To Green: Manufacturing’s Biggest Innovation Opportunity?

Felber PR & Marketing, “Adventures in Marketing” –
Sustainability is an important and cost-saving practice. This popular trend is about “developing and deploying innovative new ideas for products and processes that help improve performance, maximize efficiency, reduce costs, slash waste and increase the bottom line.” Public relations and marketing is an effective tactic that can promote sustainability for organizations, their projects and perhaps on the recruitment of the next generation of employees.

Paul Tate – Research Director and Executive Editor for the Manufacturing Leadership Council

Still think sustainability doesn’t pay? Try telling that to Robert McDonald, chairman, president, and CEO of Procter & Gamble.

In P&G’s latest annual Sustainability Report, released last month, McDonald reveals that his company has saved nearly $1 billion in costs over the last 10 years directly due to its sustainability efforts, even as sales increased by $10 billion in the same period.

It’s an impressive record. Between 2002 and 2012, P&G’s energy use dropped by 52%, C02 emissions went down by 54%, water usage fell by 58%, and waste decreased by 74%. Today the company says that 99.2% of all the materials that come into its manufacturing plants are either used or recycled.

More goods with fewer resources? That’s an impressive Lean achievement in anyone’s book.

And this strategy is not just designed to give P&G’s consumers a warm and fuzzy feeling of environmental worthiness as they buy the company’s products around the world. Like the critical cost-saving Lean initiatives that kept many companies competitive in decades gone by, it’s all about developing and deploying innovative new ideas for products and processes that help improve performance, maximize efficiency, reduce costs, slash waste, and increase the bottom line.

“We believe most of the sustainability challenges the world faces can be solved with innovation,” says McDonald in the report’s opening statement, “and that this innovation can have a positive business impact.”

Manufacturing industry innovation, of course, often starts with the front-line engineers and designers who develop the next wave of products and manufacturing processes. So it’s interesting to note that a new survey by the ASME (formerly the American Society of Mechanical Engineers) and design-software company Autodesk found that 75% of professional engineers say they now work for companies involved in, or extremely involved in, sustainability in some way. That’s a significant rise from 66% last year.

The majority of the 4,500 professional engineers who responded to the “Sustainable Design Trend Watch Survey” said designs that use less energy or reduce emissions, followed by manufacturing processes that use fewer natural resources, are the two most important types of sustainability projects they work on. Well over 60% expect their company’s involvement in sustainable design specifications to increase in the next year.

Of course, money remains a key driver in many of these innovation efforts. About 27% of respondents said the organizations they work for invest in sustainable design practices only if these increase throughput and cut costs of existing products. A quarter of respondents said their organization will actively spend extra money to incorporate sustainable design specifications in most new products.

Those numbers may well change dramatically as the next generation of product designers and engineers enters the workforce. The survey asked 1,900 undergraduate, master’s, and Ph.D. engineering students for their views, and found that over 70% of new engineering students say they are already involved in studying or developing more sustainable technologies. They also believe that designs that use less energy or reduce emissions; that require less packaging; use renewable, recyclable, or recycled materials; and are supported by manufacturing processes that use less energy and natural resources are by far the most important to them and their future careers.

Perhaps most importantly for the manufacturing industry as a whole, over 90% of the next generation of young engineers surveyed firmly believes that designing sustainable and green products results in greater product innovation.

The message seems to be clear: Gone are the days when sustainability in manufacturing was simply about corporate tree-hugging and turning out the factory lights at night. It is now about the future of the business—from innovative product and process developments, to corporate-wide Lean operational efficiencies, to high-potential improvements in bottom-line financial performance.

Sustainability is probably the biggest innovation opportunity out there right now. And whether you’re already involved or not, it seems like your next generation of skilled employees, and your future customers, will certainly expect you to do things differently.

Manufacturing Executives: Victims of Groupthink

Felber PR & Marketing, “Adventures in Marketing” –
Over 20 years ago, many manufacturing executives contracted with oversea production believing offshoring was the new trend focusing mainly on the cost of labor. Little did they realize that they settled for the price of poor quality, the loss of intellectual property and the overnight competitors that sprang up as a result, the extension of lead times, the exposure supply of chains to new types of natural disasters and more. Are you a victim of groupthink?

Chris Chiappinelli – Manufacturing Executive member

Apple is the latest company to join the U.S. reshoring parade, with CEO Tim Cook announcing that the technology titan will manufacture one of its Mac computers in the country in 2013. It’s another small indication that the reshoring trend—which some people consider a PR ploy born of patriotic fervor and others call an unstoppable force in global manufacturing—has legs.

To understand what is happening today, we need to consider what happened more than 20 years ago, when manufacturing executives, almost en masse in some sectors, closed up shop and contracted with overseas production shops—the dawn of the offshoring boom. There’s a good line in a recent Atlantic article on the manufacturing reshoring trend that sums up why this might not have been the right medicine for manufacturers. Charles Fishman, the article’s author, writes that decades ago:

“Many offshoring decisions were based on a single preoccupation—cheap labor. The labor was so cheap, in fact, that it covered a multitude of sins in other areas. The [recent] approach to bringing jobs back has been much more thoughtful.”

As Fishman notes, manufacturing executives seem to be making more holistic calculations these days—assessing not just the individual components of the cost equation, but the totality of those line items. This interest in a more comprehensive view of manufacturing strategy might explain why a discussion from mid-2011, titled “What Are the Real Costs of Outsourcing,” remains one of the most visited pieces of content on the Manufacturing Executive website.

But what does this say about manufacturing executives? Were the corporate leaders of the 1990s prone to tunnel vision—focusing obsessively on the cost of labor—that today’s leaders aren’t? Not necessarily. But I do think that manufacturing executives, like the rest of us, can be susceptible to groupthink. Think about it: At the pinnacle of the corporate pyramid, the fear of a strategic misstep can be overwhelming. At public companies, activist investors and corporate boards are primed to depose wayward executives. At smaller companies, there’s little margin for misdirection when competitors are clambering to steal your lunch.

In the 1990s, executives who watched their competitors move production to China and other offshore locales felt compelled to chase the trend, lest they lose competitive advantage. And yet even then, with the price of contract labor so low, the holistic cost equation may have favored domestic manufacturing, had U.S. executives truly accounted for a myriad of other items: the price of poor quality, the loss of intellectual property and the overnight competitors that sprang up as a result, the extension of lead times as products steamed slowly across the ocean, the price to send personnel around the globe to manage far-flung operations, the exposure of supply chains to new types of natural disasters, and the loss of a beneficial exchange of ideas between the production floor and the design department.

At the time, some executives must have understood that those “other” elements would wipe out any cost savings on labor. But few had the courage to buck the trend and make their own destiny.

These days, we hear a similar charge of weakness leveled at our elected leaders, as the country faces ominous signs of a troubled future. But I believe the lack of courage we see in some lawmakers stems primarily from their self-interest—many are more interested in positioning themselves for reelection than in making tough decisions. I think manufacturing executives, by contrast, are desperately concerned with the future of their businesses, and fearful of making choices that contravene conventional wisdom, fearful of repercussions.

There’s no inoculation against group think. But choosing to perform a holistic evaluation of the business wisdom du jour is one way to reduce the symptoms. Exhibiting the courage necessary to chart an alternate course might just put this disease into remission.

Manufacturing Executives: Victims of Group Think‘ was originally posted in the Manufacturing Executive community page.

The Facebook Background Check: Using Social Media to Vet Candidates

Jonathan T. Hyman, Esq.
Kohrman Jackson & Krantz P.L.L.

Would you believe that an astonishing 91 percent of employers use social media to aid in their decisions of who, and who not, to hire? Indeed, there exists myriad information an employer can learn about a prospective employee from information that is publicly available via social media and other websites. For example, an employer can learn that a candidate lied about his or her qualifications, posted inappropriate comments, trashed a former employer, divulges corporate confidential information, or demonstrates poor communications skills, any one of which could legitimately disqualify a candidate from further consideration. Conversely, an employer can discover that a candidate is creative, demonstrates solid communication skills, received awards or accolades, or is well regarded or recommended by his or her peers.

Despite the legitimate information an employer can discover, these informal background checks are subject to much debate. For one, there is a justified fear that information on the Internet is unreliable and unverifiable. Yet, there exists a deeper problem with employers “willy-nilly” performing Internet searches on job applicants—a genuine risk that such a search will disclose protected information such as age, sex, race, religion, or medical information.

Consider the following example. Jane Doe submits a job application to ABC Corp. The hiring manager types her name into the Facebook search bar. What happens if the search reveals that Ms. Doe belongs to a breast-cancer-survivor group? If ABC declines to interview Ms. Doe, or hires another candidate, it is opening itself up to a claim that it failed to hire her because it regarded her as disabled or because of her genetic information. Now the company is placed in the unenviable position of having to defend its decision not to hire Ms. Doe despite its discovery of her medical information.

Even worse, some are reporting on the apparent trend of employers requiring job applicants to turn over their Facebook passwords as part of the hiring process. Media coverage of this issue has been so thick and the outrage so great that United States Senators are calling for action to outlaw this supposed practice. Maryland became first state that has banned this practice. Illinois and California have followed suit. Many others (Ohio included) are considering similar legislative prohibitions. Indeed, Facebook itself officially weighed in on this issue via blog post by its Chief Privacy Officer:

“If you are a Facebook user, you should never have to share your password, let anyone access your account, or do anything that might jeopardize the security of your account or violate the privacy of your friends…. That’s why we’ve made it a violation of Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities to share or solicit a Facebook password. We don’t think employers should be asking prospective employees to provide their passwords….”

If you believe all of this coverage, you would think that this practice is rampant. In reality, I would be surprised if one-percent of all employers have even considered asking a job applicant for access to his or her Facebook account, let alone carried on the thought by making it a hiring requirement. Simply, this problem does not need fixing.

These issues raise another, more fundamental, question—what type of employer do you want to be? Do you want to be viewed as Big Brother? Do you want a paranoid workforce? Do you want your employees to feel invaded and victimized as soon as they walk in the door with no sense of personal space or privacy? Or do you value transparency? Do you want HR practices that engender honesty and openness, and recognize that employees are entitled to a life outside of work?

Despite all of these risks, Internet searches on job candidates hold real value for employers. Here are some tips with certain built-in protections that employers may follow:

  1. Consult with your employment attorney to develop policies, procedures, and guidelines for the gathering and use of Internet-based information without conflicting with discrimination and other laws.
  2. Print a clear disclaimer on the job application that you may conduct an Internet search, including sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, and general searches using search engines such as Google and Bing.
  3. Only conduct the search after you have made the candidate a conditional job offer.
  4. Consider using a third party to do the searching, with instructions that any sensitive, protected, or EEO information not be disclosed back to you. This third party can either be a trained employee insulated from the hiring process, or an outside vendor specializing in these types of background searches.
  5. Do not limit yourself to Internet searches as the only form of background screening. Use this information as part of a larger, more comprehensive background-screening program.

Following these simple steps will enable you to search for useful information on candidates, while limiting your risk.

Jonathan Hyman, a partner at Cleveland’s Kohrman Jackson & Krantz, provides proactive and results-driven solutions to employers’ workforce problems. Hyman concentrates in the representation of companies in employment disputes. He is the author of the nationally recognized and award winning Ohio Employer’s Law Blog (, which the ABA Journal nominated as one of the top 100 legal blogs for 2010 and 2011, and which LexisNexis named as one of the top 25 Labor & Employment Blogs for 2011. He has also shared his experience as an early adopter of social media in his book: Think Before You Click: Strategies for Managing Social Media in the Workplace. Hyman is also a Super Lawyers Ohio Rising Star in Employment Law five out of the last six years. For further information or questions, contact Hyman directly at or by phone at 216.408.4455.

>Lessons in SEO

>Joe Pulizzi, founder of Junta42, an online resource for marketers and publishers looking to grow their business through the use of expert content, is our first guest blogger in Adventures in Marketing. Please enjoy his lessons and guidance as he details his experience in SEO optimization.

One of the hardest lessons to learn in business is when to listen to yourself and when to not. For me, this lesson really hits home. When I first started my company, Junta42, I created a name so unique I thought optimizing SEO would be a walk in the park, I was wrong.

Honestly, there are so many areas to think of when creating a positive search engine presence, we overlooked the most obvious one…that users wouldn’t necessarily put together the fact that there was no space in our brand name. Since that time, we have also been looking at other misspellings such as junta24 (24 instead of 42). A number of reporters actually sent me a few emails transposing the 4 and 2.

Looking back, I think the biggest issue was that we didn’t put ourselves into our customers shoes and realize that search engine users don’t put in the words or phrases that “you” think they should. When people search for terms, they have their own vocabulary and view your company and your brand in a particular way. Understanding that a user looking for “Junta42” would put in a space between the Junta and the 42 seems pretty simple now, but we had a bit of tunnel vision.

During initial research, we surveyed approximately 50 publishers (60%) and marketers (40%), through online surveys and phone calls, to determine our core keyword areas. We are still working to refine these. We have also used services such as and to continually help us in choosing the right key words.

Currently, we are in the process of tracking between 75 and 100 different search phrases, and will continue to grow that list as we launch our initial content vendor matching product, Junta42 Match ( We also continue to get excellent knowledge about search engine habits by analyzing our Google Analytics information.

To gain further ground we have began advertising through our key partnerships at the Custom Publishing Council, American Business Media and BtoB magazine. We will also step up our pay-per-click advertising once

Junta42 Match officially launches to marketers on June 24, 2008.

Overall, I guess the key points are to put yourself in your customers shoes, never take anything for granted, and that SEO and SEM are ongoing processes. SEO is something that needs to be continually monitored to achieve the best results. Along with your own site development, leveraging social media outlets such as Digg and are key, as well as guest blogging opportunities and commenting on other key blogs.

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Joe Pulizzi is founder of Junta42, an online resource for marketers and publishers looking to grow their business through the use of expert content. Junta42 Match is the industry’s only buyer/seller marketplace for custom content solutions. Find more of Joe at his blog (