The Strategic Narrative: A Better Way To Communicate Change
If you think your company’s strategy conversations should only take place at the most senior level, you could unknowingly be crippling your company’s bottom line. Research showsthat companies whose members have a clear understanding of where the organization is headed and how their daily activities contribute to the success of the organization consistently outperform the competition. When communicating change within your organization, senior leaders need to relay company goals and strategy to all employees, and the most effective way to do this is a strategic narrative.
What Is A Strategic Narrative?
A strategic narrative centers on a leader’s ability to articulate a clear and compelling vision and strategy for the future of the organization. A strategic narrative is described as “a written and a spoken story of an imagined future captured in a ‘before,’ ‘now,’ and ‘to be’ sequence.” Rather than presenting a series of bullet points and clip art in a PowerPoint deck, a powerful strategic narrative paints a picture of how a company’s past, present, and future fit together in a broader strategic context.
Strategic narratives are a form of storytelling, and like all good stories, they need a compelling plot, characters, a climax, and a conclusion. By telling this story, employees and other stakeholders will understand their place in the larger narrative and how they can take an active role in shaping the future of your organization.
In addition, this approach:
Positions the change in a respectful way. Narratives enable leaders to change the direction of the organization without disrespecting the hard work past leaders and employees have invested in it.
Helps leaders appear more human. Leadership storytellingthrough strategic narratives allows company leaders to bring their personal stories into the equation to ensure the messages hit home with others. When stakeholders can relate to you on a personal level, they will be more sympathetic and accepting of change.
Creates an inclusive environment. Engaging other stakeholders in a dialogue surrounding the strategy not only helps align peoples’ efforts but also sets the stage for an inclusive environment they can comfortably connect with.
Reinforces company values. By taking this approach, you will drive home the values you want to embed in the fabric of the organization moving forward.
Helps employees retain the information. Telling your company’s strategic narrative is more likely to inspire, motivate, and be retained than a dry PowerPoint presentation or report. And because stories engagemultiple regions of the brainstakeholders will absorb the message and see themselves in the bigger context.
Creating A Story That Galvanizes & Rally’s Your People Behind The Cause
A strategic narrative is a corporate story that an organization can understand, identify with and believe in.
The battle for hearts and minds starts with the heart. Storytelling influences how human beings think and behave, we are all hard-wired to respond to stories. Individual stories are more convincing than data…nobody ever stormed a castle because of a pie chart. People accept ideas more readily when their minds are in ‘story mode’, rather than ‘analytical mode’.
The viral marketing of ideas depends first and foremost on stories…for an idea to pass from one person to another it must be contained in something that can be easily transmitted, just as a disease will spread within a human population via a highly contagious virus. A good story is precisely that kind of container.
At AllChange we have developed a number of storytelling techniques that accelerate engagement and help our clients’ model and understand the business challenges and aspirations that they care about, in a rich, deep and meaningful way. Helping them to tell a story makes a huge impact in terms of understanding and remembering it. It helps release emotion connected to the situation, increasing engagement, involvement and buy-in.
Telegraph Video Interview With AllChange…
Mechanism For Building A Shared Vision
A strategic narrative (aka corporate story) is the ideal mechanism to collaboratively identify and shape strategic intent into a coherent vision capable of informing and framing policy.
The process of developing a strategic narrative is an extremely effective way to get a group of senior leaders working on the same page. The story creation process provides an element of group therapy, providing space and quality airtime for the senior leadership to work through conflicting perspectives – that otherwise might never have been addressed in the work place.
Strategic narrative is a powerful mechanism to support and enable vision-led design. It addresses a range of critical elements that need to be tackled when translating strategy into meaningful execution. The top three benefits gained from a strategic narrative:
1. The strategic narrative is a powerful mechanism to generate a shared senior leadership consensus view of the future state. Gaining an on-message senior team always accelerates follow-on delivery because everyone is working on the same page with a clear agreed mandate to proceed.
2. The strategic narrative places a practical container on the strategic intent. Providing clear and meaningful terms of reference wired to inform follow-on delivery.
3. The strategic narrative is capable of articulating the new strategic direction to the organisation and vital external stakeholder audiences in an accessible, user-friendly and richly meaningful way – connecting the head and heart to the new initiative in equal measure – providing a clear ‘north star’ for everyone to align behind.
The Strategic Narrative Value:
A strategic Narrative is a powerful tool that captures strategic thinking, complex technical concepts and creative ideas in a way that everyone can understand, identify with and believe in. It is also capable of:
Translating strategy into meaningful execution;
Generating a mandated consensus leadership view – with full executive sponsorship;
Providing clear leadership direction. Enabling the leadership to implement effective joined-up oversight across the organisation in a practical and engaging way;
Providing a governance framework (with decision rules) that describe what success looks and feels like – informing and guiding decision-making, ways-of-working and behaviour;
Providing clear terms of reference for the project and business design teams to unpack;
Positioning and facilitating the change in a respectful way;
Accelerating engagement by helping leaders appear more human when communicating the story;
Creating an inclusive environment;
Reinforcing important strategic messages and company values; and
Assisting employees to retain the critical information required to execute the game plan.
We use storytelling to help groups explore issues and make them meaningful for others. To find out more, click here…