I recently finished a timeline installation for one of our clients at Lilja and we’re in the final stages of production on a business history book for another. While both projects have resulted in beautiful presentations of the clients’ histories, I came away with a message for businesses everywhere: Please take time to chronicle your journey!
Our LifeStories work at Lilja revolves around helping clients share their histories. Individual clients always have a plethora of photos, documents and keepsakes to help tell their story. But sadly, business clients usually have precious few photos and source materials or they lack a system for keeping track of them. And when it comes time to celebrate a company milestone, no one can find those photos of the groundbreaking for the new building or the names of employees past.
It’s not surprising. Businesses are too busy doing their amazing work to take the time to chronicle the journey as it is happening.
There will never be a perfect time to create and organize company archives. But if you dedicate just a little time up front to create a system for saving and labeling photos, documents and other important items as they are created, the payback will be well worth the investment of time.
- Identify one or two people on staff to be in charge of the archives. And be sure they keep the archives on site, if possible.
- Establish a location where staff can just drop photos and other items into a file – either physical or digital. The easier and quicker it is for people to submit their items to be recorded, the more great keepsakes you’ll have.
- Encourage everyone to take photos – of special projects, around the workplace and at company events. After events, remind people to share their photos with the keepers of the archives.
- Important documents, marketing materials, company newsletters and media articles are great artifacts too! These things may not seem worth saving now, but they will be invaluable to those trying to tell the company’s story many years from now.
- Every few years, take a few moments to write down important milestones to keep a running timeline of the business. Your mind is much fresher about last year’s event than it is about an event that happened ten years ago.
- Always, always, always note names, date and location on the back of every photo. (If you’re working with digital photos, save this information right in the file name.) Your future self will thank you.
It’s the photos, documents and articles that will help future leaders and staff tell the story of the great work you did today.
Posted by: Linda Tedford