In the context of strategy, you can use the word “narrative” in two ways.
“Narrative” as “story”
That’s the most common case. Here, “narrative” and “story” are interchangeable. “Narrative” is therefore associated with a piece of communication, and for many people, a slide deck. The problem is that it doesn’t define what and who the story is about. It could be about anything, really. In this case, not always but very often, business people and organizations end up predominantly talking about themselves. They revert by default to their own story. As a consequence, they struggle to connect with their community.
“Narrative” as “viewpoint”
That’s the more subtle definition, one that we tend to use less intentionally too. In this case, we mean “Narrative” as something tied to a broader set of concepts, such as “discourse”, “rhetoric”, “ideology”, “thesis”, “perspective,” or even “attitude”. This definition is like a wide-angle lens that offers the opportunity to think about “narrative” in many forms. We can see your narrative not only in your story but also in your attitude, your behavior, your culture, your policies, your connections and impact on society, your actions and decisions, your relationships with specific partners and investors, your involvement in politics, your stand about social issues, and how you think about the future.
A powerful tool for your strategy and innovation
If you define your “Narrative” as your “viewpoint,” it becomes your “strategic narrative”, and it will serve several functions, including the following:
- Differentiation: a perspective is a chance to disagree with your competitors.
- Adoption: you can frame why people should get your product now.
- Decision: a viewpoint is a filter.
- Brand magnetism: if your narrative includes a cause, it will attract supporters.
- Alignment: a perspective is a chance to help people take a position.
- Collaboration: with a clear viewpoint, people know what to do; they figure it out and don’t need control.
- Trust: investors and partners like to work with a company aware of what they want to defend.
“Narrative” as “Story” is obviously more limiting.
I do a talk on this topic every week.
Join me next Thursday, May 20th, at 9:00 am Pacific to explore more. It’s free.
Every Thursday at 9:00 am Pacific, you are invited to attend a free 30-minute talk+conversation about one of the strategic narrative principles in the book that I am writing. I call these meetings the Strategic Narrative Underground Sessions.
During the meeting, I talk for about 15 minutes, and then we discuss a specific aspect of what you’ve learned. I answer your questions, and this is also a chance for me to gather your feedback.
At the end of the call, you will get access to the Google document with the manuscript of my book. Each time you join, you get access to a new pattern. You can join for free as many times as you want.
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.