Changing the narrative in business storytelling ― Phil Knight and Shoe Dog

September 4, 2017

Just this morning, I was reading Shoe Dog: A memoir by Phil Knight, the creator of NIKE. It’s packed with personal and professional insights and stories.

As you might know, in the 1990s, there were many damaging reports on Nike’s use of Asian sweatshops. In his memoir, Phil Knight shares how he and his team decided to make changes to mitigate the effects of this ugly legacy. Their effort to increase wages backfired in one country, as the government did not want factory workers to earn more than doctors. Knight and his team then looked at other ways of improving working conditions.

The ‘rubber room,’ where shoe uppers are attached to the soles of shoes, is the most carcinogenic area in shoe factories. Nike invented a new bonding agent that removed 97% of the toxins found in bonding glues. Surprisingly, Nike even shared this invention with its competitors.

In terms of business storytelling, multiple narratives exist within any business context. The best way to create positive narratives is through actions, particularly those by leaders.

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