Transforming culture with transmedia storytelling

The Challenge

How do you transform a global culture when classroom training is not an option? How do you inspire and engage 20,000 hyper-connected, gadget-toting workers to breakthrough innovation and performance? That was the challenge facing Kimberly-Clark.

The Solution

Korn Ferry turned to The Gronstedt Group to develop an innovative transmedia storytelling initiative for Kimberly-Clark, featuring television-style video dramatizations, podcasts, scribe videos, QR codes, blogs, eLearning, and more.

The centerpiece of the campaign was a video drama series that helped team leaders learn to manage their staffs more inclusively. The television-style comedy, called the “iTent,” dramatized the main learning points about inclusive management. The story focuses on the working relationships of a newly created product team collaborating on a revolutionary high-tech camping tent. When the team gets off to a rocky start, the project leader takes them on a rafting trip to clear their minds and improve their interactions. However, after his team saves him from a life-threatening mishap, the leader sees how HE must change to help the team achieve its goals. The incident takes him on a journey of transformation to a more inclusive leadership style that leads to a breakthrough new product idea.

The “mockumentary” video format of the “iTent” series was built around the conceit of a video team shooting a documentary. Featuring hand-held cameras and cut-in interviews, it draws on a well-established motif (popularized by everything from Spinal Tap to The Office and Modern Family). The series dramatizes the main learning points through a relevant story arc, with a clearly defined challenge and conflict, engaging protagonists, entertaining antagonists, and a solution-focused resolution. Stories like these don’t just entertain, they move people to action.

Complementing the “iTent” series were other creative video learning elements, including “scribes,” where the story unfolds through a series of sequential artist sketches drawn on a whiteboard, and “machinimas,” with avatars shot in a 3D virtual world. In addition to the videos, a radio-style podcast series featured interviews with company leaders, eLearning modules built on-the job awareness and competency, and blogging and message boards created communities of learning.

“This was a fabulous program! I can’t imagine anyone not learning something or having a ‘aha’ moment when taking this course.”

Employee Attendance

The Results Were Amazing

Over 20,000 employees attended some of the program. Managers from North America to South Korea held spontaneous viewing parties during both virtual and physical status meetings where they watched the videos and discussed implications with their teams. A year later, Kimberly-Clark won the prestigious 2014 Catalyst Award for women in business. One participant gushed: “This was a fabulous program! I can’t imagine anyone not learning something or having a ‘aha’ moment when taking this course.”

The campaign is described in our ATD T+D Magazine article about transmedia storytelling and this Prezi from our 2014 ASTD International Conference & Exhibition presentation. Watch the video above or listen to a podcast demo.

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