A common catchphrase emanating from boardrooms these days is, “we need a new narrative.” With business landscapes changing quickly – from the advent of new technologies, global competition, evolving customer behaviors and more – it’s no longer enough to say, “we make widgets” or, simply, “our services are the best.” As a leader, you want a powerful narrative that inspires employees, excites partners, entices customers and engages influencers. A message that is succinct, but also comprehensive. Detailed, but able to evolve in the future. And above all, one that defines the company’s vision, communicates its strategy, and embodies the culture.
If your organization is like most, you spend weeks (if not more) debating each and every word to craft your vision, mission, strategy, and goals. As part of these discussions leaders should also consider the intended outcomes and goals behind any new narrative. After all, the process of developing a Strategic Narrative can also serve as a forcing function to guide the strategic direction of the organization itself.
If it is action that ultimately leads to any kind of success, having clear direction is crucial for building any sort of momentum. Recently, we’ve reviewed some of the key lessons that can be found in my book, “A Practical Guide to Strategic Narrative Marketing.” So far we’ve introduced you to the book and how this all started with a category and compared mission statements to strategic narratives (checkout last week’s blog for part 2).
Here is a brief overview of five different ways a Strategic Narrative can improve organizational prowess as a whole:
Complacency Safeguard: A Strategic Narrative can help ensure that industry complacency never sets in.
Opportunity Creation: purposely exploring industry disruption factors and transformational shifts can uncover new opportunities for growth and competitive advantage.
Competitive Identification: By identifying emerging mega-trends, and the companies that are driving them, you may find new competitors that are worthy of your attention and possible response.
Understanding Customer Behavior: customer behavior and brand loyalty are shifting quickly and catching many organizations off-guard.
Executive Alignment: conducting an industry focused strategy session often feels like a family holiday dinner when the issues of politics arise – everyone has strongly held and passionately divergent opinions. The power of the Strategic Narrative helps resolve issues and align not only the executive team, but the entire organization.
In closing, let’s take a moment to reflect on one of the greatest American authors of all time, Mark Twain, who said, “Actions speak louder than words, but not nearly as often.” If anyone takes but one lesson from this post it’s that companies need a powerful narrative to get their message across, and for those listening to take the desired action. A Strategic Narrative has the power to animate a company and its employees, not just shape what consumers might think about its brand. It is much more than just putting words to paper or stating slogans vigorously over a loud speaker; it’s the embodiment of what your company holds true about its industry and itself. A powerful and strategic narrative can ultimately help guide an organization in ways never thought possible.