In complex situations, humans instinctively construct narratives to make sense of what’s going on around them.
These narratives help them rationalise why ‘now’ is a logical progression of what’s gone before and so it enables them to make smart choices about what they should do next.
Picture this: you are standing in the African savannah and amongst the heat and flies and calls and squawks you hear a roar, followed by the sound of a 200kg animal rushing towards you. Your brain quickly constructs a story to make sense of what’s happening – and tell you what you should do about it.
So, a strategic narrative for a company is not a “Once upon a time” fairy tale. Instead, it is an explicit expression of the organisation’s origin, its current situation and vision, and it makes clear the obstacles, how to overcome them and why action is critical.
In an increasingly complex and fast-moving world, where it’s not possible to rehearse every situation or delay taking action, it’s the leadership team that needs to create and take ownership of that narrative.
We work closely with the CEO and leadership team in a proven framework.
In order for the unifying narrative to be flexible enough for a complex world, we combine the methods of management consultants with the skills of the creative industries.
We start by helping the leadership team focus on a small number of fundamental truths:
Following this, in a scenario planning session, the leadership team construct a range of possible futures and identify one that they will own.
The leadership team then re-engages with the brand vision to understand the consequences of their narrative.
Finally, we work with each divisional leader to help them map out the implications of this narrative for the role they must play.
A good narrative sits on just one page of paper. But when it’s carefully constructed it creates a compelling call to action in which each listener understands the role they must take, including leading other people on the shared journey.
By giving ownership of the narrative to the leadership team, we have seen decision-making move to the periphery of the company, meaning the company moves faster, and engage its customers and employees more deeply.
As the brand vision is lived out in the narrative, it helps attract the right talent, and it helps current employees see the content (the ‘why’) for their work and how it adds value.
Finally, it leaves the Founder and CEO to look over the horizon and keep moving the company forward.