Tuesday, July 17, 2012

"One Thousand and One" founders: "We were pushing something they didn't need or want yet"

This story is from Gabrielle Dolan and Yamini Naidu, the founders of the organizational storytelling consultancy One Thousand and One, as told to Australia's Startup Smart blog. Startup Smart features a weekly entry titled, "My Best Mistake," which we'll be scouring for more great stories to point to.

While Dolan and Naidu were confident organisational storytelling would take off, they failed to recognise that most people had no real understanding of it, so demand was almost non-existent.

“In 2005, people still were not sure what organisational storytelling was. They had no idea. We tried to run a few public workshops but the market wasn’t ready for it,” Dolan says.

“We invested a lot of time and money into developing and marketing a program that ran at a loss.”

“Because the market wasn’t ready, we felt we were pushing something they didn’t need or want yet. That was a really early learning curve for us.”

Dolan says the turning point came when she and Naidu ran a program that only a small number of people attended.

“When you’re just sitting there and people literally aren’t buying it, you realise you haven’t got it right,” she says.

“We were six months into developing the program and we’d spent thousands of dollars. At that time, it was the biggest investment we were making.”

While Dolan and Naidu realised they had made a mistake, their efforts didn’t go entirely to waste.

“What we didn’t realise was that some organisations were ready – they were more mature and more advanced,” Dolan says.

“Instead of running public workshops, we would go and work with the likes of NAB and Ericsson, and do internal workshops.”

One Thousand & One has only recently ventured back into public workshops, but has taken a far more cautious approach the second time around.

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