STRATEGIC NARRATIVE INSIGHTS
What Are You Transforming, Exactly?
Writing in a foreign language is a challenge. As an exophonic writer, I’ve often had to go beyond myself to overcome self-doubt and impostor syndrome. To compensate, I do my best to respect English grammar and verify every word’s meaning, sometimes the most basic ones.
But my reward for this extra effort comes when I discover more profound layers of meaning than I had thought for a particular term. I can then connect new facets of that word to the topic I explore and discover new insights. In that case, my handicap turns into a strength that gives me the energy to keep on publishing every day.
Today, as I was thinking about my ideal clients, I noticed a new commonality they all share: they have a transformative agenda. Therefore, their success depends on their ability to evolve everyone’s beliefs. And practicing a strategic narrative helps them do that. Should I say they practice a “transformative narrative” from now on?
But it’s needless to say that “transformation” is one of these recent years’ greatest business buzzwords, which made me want to find out more about it.
So, as I researched and reflected on the word “transformative”, I noticed three types of transformative agendas you could pursue. They are not mutually exclusive, and there might be more that I didn’t think about. After reading this article, please let me know if you can think about more of them.
Type 1 - Industry transformation
Industry transformation is an irreversible change in the way we do something. It’s a powerful strategy for entrepreneurs seeking differentiation and market dominance. It often occurs through creating a new market category and typically requires large amounts of resources to execute. Industry transformation can’t happen with new technology alone. It has to be combined with a new business model too. Think about the mp3 music format that Apple decided to sell through iTunes. Mp3 existed before, but the music industry’s tipping point happened when Apple came up with a new way to sell it.
Type 2 - Customer transformation
Customer transformation is the goal of companies selling experiences, the ultimate stage of value creation in Jim Gilmore’s theory of “Progression of Economic Value”. If your service becomes so common that you can’t differentiate it anymore in your market, you may turn it into an experience. You will move away from delivering a transaction to offering an improvement in someone’s life. An experience increases the perceived value you provide, commands a premium, and helps you stand out. For instance, a visit to a Starbucks Roastery Reserve has less to do with coffee than it has to do with theater. Measuring the performance of an experience is measuring the direct impact on the people you serve.
Type 3 - Environment transformation
Here, I use the word “environment” in its broadest definition. Companies seeking to impact the planet, society, or their local ecosystem see greater opportunities than selling products, services, or experiences. The impact of these businesses is in the transformations they instigate within the communities they serve. Their model interconnects profit with purpose, tying their returns to their positive impact. They see their offer as a vehicle for an end instead of a means. They also hold themselves accountable for the transformational result sought by the participants of their movement. For example, Tony’s Chocolonely was founded and now exists specifically to make chocolate 100% slave free. The transformation here is about humanity.
If your company claims to be transformative, it might bring clarity to explore which of those transformations it is pursuing.