Currently, a frequent discussion item among CEOs and managers is that they need a good strategic story. People want a story that inspires employees, partners and clients, and has an impact on influencers. A story that is concise, yet comprehensive. Specific yet with room for growth. And one which defines the business’s vision, conveys the strategy and embodies the culture. A strategic story is a special kind of story. It declares the reason for your existence and what makes you unique. The construction of a strategic business story requires an intensive thinking exercise involving all parts of the organisation, guided by the management.
The context of the story must be human, so not an institutional one. People want to get an idea of the business as if it’s a person. Human relationships require reciprocity and authenticity. The story must tell who you are, not only what you do. Much like the scenario of a job interview. You have the CV of the candidate, but what really matters can’t be set down on paper. You what to know what inspires them, what they like working on, and whether they can be relied on. You want to get a feeling of the kind of person they are.
The cornerstone of a strategic story is a shared goal. This shared goal is the result the company and client strive for together. It’s more than a value proposition that is delivered to the client. It’s the journey that the company and client make together. By having a common goal, the relationship shifts from consumer to co-creator. For instance, Nike’s mission is “to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world”. This is a common goal in the sense that Nike actively encourages people to inspire each other. Nike’s “Just Do It” slogan is an important element of its story. Besides the fact that it’s part of the inspiration in the mission, it also helps to define the respective roles. Nike is really saying, “We supply the shoes, equipment and clothing. You supply your drive, your discipline and your competitive spirit”. It’s a story that goes much further than the products Nike sells.
People don’t change fundamentally, and nor do businesses. When they are established, a kind of DNA is created that continues to exist throughout life. A strategic story must align with this brand DNA, or it will be experienced as being inauthentic. You have to return to the original vision and ethos of the founder(s) to find the brand DNA.