Lately, I’ve been writing a lot about a strategic narrative as a product–a system of stories that you build intentionally to mobilize people to participate in a new opportunity.
I may have accidentally reinforced the idea that once you’ve built this system, that’s it. You just need to implement it everywhere; you just need to write down those stories and publish them in various places like your website or your sales deck, for instance.
Sorry, but that’s not enough.
You need to do much more after you’ve constructed your strategic narrative. You still need to activate it. That’s actually the most important part and certainly the responsibility of a business owner or CEO.
I know what you think: our Marketing team or our Change team should take care of this. But, no, it’s the executive leadership’s responsibility to “walk” now you’ve came up with the “talk”.
In fact, you should start using your strategic narrative as soon as you have a first draft, when it’s still imperfect, so you can test it and involve people in constructing it with you. What people build together becomes their own. Getting buy-in is not a box on your project plan.
Do you think that because your stories are posted on a webpage, everyone will be aligned? That’s a costly mistake. Time and time again, I’ve seen the gap between external communication and culture create such dissonance.
As I like to say, a narrative is always socially constructed. So, therefore, it’s a living concept that evolves in people’s minds and that you need to integrate and activate through a process of conversations, repetitions, interpretations, and enactments.
Here are few practices to consider to do so:
- Organize internal events to channel more conversations, gather stories, solve problems together, and reignite the passion for the company’s reason to exist.
- Make internal networks participate, such as groups of friends, clubs, and affiliations. Ask them to help translate the strategic narrative at a more informal level.
- Change your meeting practices. If your meetings reinforce your values, you will turn your working methods into a powerful vehicle for your strategic narrative. For instance, if you’re all about health, what do more healthy meetings look like?
- Role-play situations with your team or clients to enact how your strategic narrative takes form in real life. It will become second nature.
Building a strategic narrative is not just about creating a “product” through a one-time project. It’s also about the process of helping everyone get on the same page to live it.