Why every successful organisation has a guiding narrative.

And how you can align the leadership team with yours.

The fact that “85% of strategy never gets off the page” isn’t just a waste of resources. It’s a waste of people’s lives.

Before people can successfully engage with the nuts and bolts of a strategic Vision, they need to see the bigger picture. More than that, though, they need to see themselves in that picture.

A simple and inspiring Vision that unifies everyone in the organisation is critical, then, but it’s never going to be enough.

Every experienced CEO knows that for the Vision to succeed, the leadership team must create their own narrative for how they’ll get there.

But in the 20 years since the concept of a corporate narrative started taking hold, there has been a lot of confusion over what a narrative is.

What a narrative is. And isn’t.

In complex situations, humans instinctively construct narratives to make sense of what’s going on around them.

These narratives help them to see what’s going on now as a logical progression of what’s gone before, and so make choices about what they should do next.

A strategic narrative, derived from the strategic Vision, weaves together an organisation’s origin, Vision, goals, obstacles and capabilities – in a way that makes the reader understand what they can do next to help achieve the company’s goals.

A good narrative sits easily on just one page of paper. But when it’s carefully constructed it can create a compelling call to action in which each listener understands the role they have to take.

A new world needs a new kind of narrative

Vision should not be confused with strategy: it’s the thing that happens before strategy, when the ambitious CEO looks over the horizon, rather than worrying about how to get there.

And narrative should not be confused with strategic planning: it’s the process before the allocation of resources, where individuals in the leadership team understand what the Vision means for them and their departments and they commit to change.

But today’s world is characterised by the VUCA acronym: the world as it’s experienced now is volatile, uncertain, complicated and ambiguous. So, any narrative which the leadership team constructs must have flexibility built into it.

How can you prepare people for a changing world?

At Verbal Identity, our foundation in the magic and mechanics of language means that we understand how language shapes thinking. Our unique methodology is focussed on using language to inspire and engage people – and see help them see how they can take a key role in a complex, changing world.

In particular, we help the leadership team to commit by taking them through three stages:

I imagine.
I can.
I will.

Only when people pass all the way along this journey do they fully take ownership of long-lasting change.

How to start thinking about narrative

1. What do you stand for?
Ask yourself ‘what do we want from the world, from our people, and our products?’ Not the things that would be nice to have, but your brand’s reason for being (aside from profit).

2. What do you stand against?
A common enemy is a powerful driving force- it’s a wonderful tool for aligning people. And it doesn’t have to be a competitor, it can be an idea or a trait.

3. Who are you?
What is it about the way you do things that sets you apart? Other brands might stand for something similar, but it’s your combination of belief and behaviour that drives a distinctive narrative.

 

Verbal Identity is a boutique consultancy which believes that before you start thinking about strategy, marketing, brand or growth, you must be clear on your Vision.

We are working with national and global brands in the luxury and ultra-luxury sector, helping the CEO clarify their Vision and then helping the leadership team align with it.

We have developed our own proven methodology which has led to the successful investment of hundred of millions of pounds. More than this, it has produced teams who are aligned and committed to the guiding Vision.

To find out more about our methodology, talk to our Senior Partner, Chris West

About Verbal Identity

We are writers, strategists and linguistics experts: super-specialists in the magic and mechanics of language. We know how language creates thinking. And how – if you shape the language of your company, your comms and your customers – you shape what people think and do, read more…

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This