You might have heard this cry for help before – in fact you may have even cried it out yourself. You might acknowledge that history is ‘important’ and ‘valuable’, but how do you make it matter? And besides, it’s more important to focus on the future rather than looking into the past, right?
We hear you, but we also say that you are wrong. Sure, a teacher doling out boring facts about some stuffy old guys in a bygone era will kill the joy, just like any tedious old book might.
So don’t do it that way.
It’s important to embrace the facts and record the figures, but the most important thing is to embrace the stories – that’s where every good heritage project should begin.
If a comedian can have you in stitches about something as mundane as the last time she was on a plane, or that time he visited a doctor, it’s clear that good communication can unlock the door to connection. And without even knowing you or your organisation, I can guarantee that you have more meaningful content than a story about a plane trip or doctor’s visit with which to start.
We can all connect to the comedian’s trip to the doctor because we’ve all been there ourselves – it’s relatable. And if done well, your organisation’s history can be relatable to your staff, suppliers and customers. It can mean something to them.
No matter if your organisation’s history is good, bad or ugly; learning from yesterday will help create a better tomorrow. And here’s the secret to not making it boring: the reason for undertaking a heritage project is not actually about your school, your company or your family – it’s your reader. What does the history say about them and what they’re doing now? How are they a part of something bigger? How do all these stories inform what their future can be like? How does it make them feel?
Your organisation might be approaching a milestone – an important (and for you, potentially ominous) marker in the not-too-distant future. You don’t know what to do, but you do know that it can’t be boring. Don’t worry – it’s our job to help. And it will not be boring.