How do businesses keep their employees inspired? How do civic and other non-profit organizations build and maintain their identity? How do organizations create institutions that last for centuries? The common thread in these questions is the importance of telling the story. The origins, experiences and personal values of founders often hold the key to understanding why they succeeded. Each business has a unique origin, a legacy of founders that can inspire those now in the business… and inspire young people who could learn from this legacy and build new businesses. And each organization—non-profit, foundation, religious, educational—has its own story of people getting together to meet a community need, a story that keeps the organization focused on its mission and that motivates benefactors, volunteers and the people it serves.
The story of a business or organization often lies dormant, asleep in file cabinets or microfilm collections, present but unconscious in the memories of the people who built the enterprise. If abandoned or neglected, these records and memories can be lost, and so too will the story be lost. Organizational memory has a value for present operations as well: finding, preserving, and accessing these memories can help projects succeed. Without an active effort, organizational memory is often lost.
Whether for making use of a businessís organizational memory or celebrating a foundationís history, the important thing is to identify and understand the value of documents and memories. These processes require key skills, such as knowing what will be of value to historians and knowing how to save information of long-term value. From these records, the story can be explained and shared.
Susan Goodman Novick, certified archivist and historian, helps businesses and other organizations find, organize, preserve and share their histories by:
Evaluating historical significance of organizationís records
Assessing needs for archival storage of records
Managing preservation plans for paper and digital records
Planning and executing strategies for commemorative occasions
Writing history of business or organization
Enhancing organizational identity with historical materials