Yuval Noah Harari explains one of the most potent ideas behind the concept of a company’s strategic narrative in a book called Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind.
Any large-scale human cooperation—whether a modern state, a medieval church, an ancient city, or an archaic tribe—is rooted in common myths that exist only in people’s collective imagination.
As humans, we do this through the power of narratives.
At first, a business is just an idea.
Then, it becomes a company, and a company is a myth. In some cases, it’s a 100% intangible myth.
In his book, Harari takes car manufacturer Peugeot as an example to make this point better than I would. But basically, Peugeot only exists as a symbol for all people; even if they don’t own a Peugeot car. That’s why they might trust the brand and invest in the company; or decide to work with it.
Yesterday, I attended a virtual conference on the Circular Economy. This gathering was yet another example of the power of new narratives. The Circular Economy is not a new concept but one that we’re now forced to consider if we care about our species.
We were almost 200 people on a Zoom call, all connected not only to a platform but to this narrative:
Together, we can reshape the economy so we can protect our livelihoods and the environment.
I made up this sentence. It is the narrative in my mind, built on the stories I heard.
Notice what this sentence does?
- It conveys a particular point of view,
- points us in the direction of an opportunity,
- and calls us to action and cooperation.
These are some of the elements I help you decode and build for your company during my workshop.
Here is the thing:
You can only start companies, form effective teams, align people, execute strategies, and thrive if you can build this type of narrative.
What happens if you don’t?
The myth dies.
What happens if the myth dies?
Your company dies.