In the late 1990s, the commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, Charles O. Rossotti, had a vision: The IRS could treat taxpayers as customers and turn a feared bureaucracy into a world-class service organization. Getting more than 100,000 employees to think and act differently required more than just systems redesign and process change. IRS leadership designed and executed an ambitious communications program including daily voice mails from the commissioner and his top staff, training sessions, videotapes, newsletters, and town hall meetings that continued through the transformation. Timely, constant, practical communication was at the heart of the program, which brought the IRS’s customer ratings from the lowest in various surveys to its current ranking above the likes of McDonald’s and most airlines.
Narrative change means examining how to create and distribute new narratives in entertainment, the media, school curricula, museums, monuments and parks, and in the ways we communicate that can influence people’s perspectives, perceptions and behaviors about and towards one another – so that we can work more effectively and productively towards community-based change. At times this may mean that we need to tell necessary and uncomfortable truths. This can be restorative because it can acknowledge the pain and suffering of racism and the resistance and resilience of those impacted. The TRHT supports people of all ages, races, ethnicities, faiths, cultures and socioeconomic statuses coming together to shape narratives about the past, present, and future – complete and accurate stories that honor the full complexity of our humanity as the country forges a more equitable future.