STRATEGIC NARRATIVE INSIGHTS
Using Communication As A Forcing Function
The surface level of our narrative is essential. For instance, it’s the sales presentation, the website, or the keynote speech where we tell people about our vision and inspire them about possibilities.
To create it, we usually focus too soon on making it perfect. We want to hire a designer that will get it done fast. As a result, we miss the true power of the creative process. Communication can push our thinking and force clarity. We should dare to scratch the surface to solve big problems, test new ideas and make decisions. We should also determine if the form and the substance are viable before we commit to building it.
The ideal method to do it is a “narrative sprint”. It is a collaborative and time-constrained process that focuses on prototyping an idea to get rapid feedback.
Jack Knapp of Google Ventures describes a sprint as “your chance to check the navigation charts and steer in the right direction before going full steam ahead”.
The process of building the communication surface of our narrative always triggers crucial questions about our strategy, operations and team dynamics. We can answer those questions through prototyping and testing.
Four constraints will help us boost creativity:
In the beginning, we should prototype a rough communication surface. It doesn’t have to be extra pretty to see if it will work. Focus on the message. The words come first, so we will use the writing tools that we know well. We won’t overinvest in visual design until we see what we need to say.
We won’t wait to test our narrative. We will set a time constraint of three to five days, so our failures provide the most significant ROI. Rapid feedback is more important than perfection. With an actual deadline to share our narrative in public, we will drive more open and crucial conversations.
To get better feedback, we will expose our narrative to more people. Design sprints work well to prepare for high-stakes moments when the narrative becomes a pressing business need for all, such as fundraising, transformations, culture change, launches and essential sales pursuits.
We won’t judge our narrative based on taste. A narrative is not a piece of art. It’s not because we like it that it works. It is a call to action. It works because people change their decisions. When it’s effective, we should see more people wanting to do things like join and support your company or buy your product.
Even the best narratives take an uncertain path to the world. We will treat the communication of our narrative as an experiment first. This way, we will avoid costly mistakes and increase our chances to magnetize our organization.
What we will do:
- We will resist the temptation to overinvest in communication early on.
- We will use “narrative sprints” to make better strategic decisions.
- We will test the narrative on high-visibility, high-stakes pieces of communications.
- We will focus on testing and getting feedback early on.
- We will measure the success of our narrative based on people’s behaviors.