Insight article

Anita Roddick – one of business’s great storytellers

Business has lost a great storyteller in Anita Roddick. The Body Shop was founded on a great story, and through its evolution has inspired millions through the stories behind its products, its support and campaigns against animal testing and for human rights, ethical trading, the environment and the arts.

Anita herself was a truly great storyteller. In one of her last interviews with Emma Thelwell, City correspondent of The Daily Telegraph, she said “One of the most intriguing things in management and in business is this role of storytelling – people need the anecdotes to do the work that they do. I was saying to Boots recently, my God to go back to the original thinking of Mr Boot, the original thinking of Marks and Spencer – who was Marks and who was Spencer – how did they get together?

“What I’m doing now, for me and The Body Shop, is archiving everything. I learnt that from Boots more than anything. You take the history and instead of dumping it away because its reinventing itself, you take the early thinking and everything that fashioned the company.”

This kind of appreciative thinking is a powerful approach for shaping strategy in boardrooms…identifying what has made an organisation great, mining the stories that epitomise the values and success that will influence its new direction. A true champion in every sense of the word, Anita was a leader who really knew how to make sense of business and the societies in which we live and work, bringing the two together in a way through fantastic role-modelling which others have followed.

Nailia Tasseel