Here is a good question from the survey people take when they sign-up for this list.
How can I share my strategic narrative in 30-second or less?
Ok, so first, let’s highlight the assumption that most of us make: narratives = a piece of communication. When we use the “narrative” in the context of business, we associate it with a story that can be told through a presentation, a document, a written statement, or a video. There are of course more formats, but you can see, these are common mediums.
In that context, making a strategic narrative brief is a valid goal. Business leaders want brevity because people’s attention span is short. The shorter the narrative, the higher the chances of being heard.
How do you get there?
First, start long. Building a narrative is a process of exploration. That’s why it is so applicable to strategy, hence the term “strategic narrative”. Do this work as an opportunity to envision options, create alternatives, and test ideas. Write your narrative in a long-form, so you lay down your choices in detail. Then rewrite and condense it several times, so you extract its essential meaning. I put together the pyramid diagram below to suggest the steps you might want to follow, starting from the base.
It turns out narratives are not just messages. Sure, communications play an important role in spreading narratives. But narratives also exist because we enact them. We even give them life through behaviors, symbols, objects, and ceremonies.
Your strategic narrative is everywhere, not just in your PowerPoint deck. That’s why it can become so dissonant if you just focus on what is being written and said.
Thinking of your strategic narrative beyond communications provides an opportunity to make it even more powerful.
One of my clients, Nuoz, provides dedicated networks for companies with many buildings spread out geographically that need remote access to operational technology devices (such as A/C, lights, cameras, etc.). They do this without using the corporate network, which has the huge benefit of making businesses 100% secure against cyber attacks. Their strategy is to do it without installing any new wire. That’s pretty cool. They’re redefining their market with a strategic narrative named Wire-free Access. It positions Nuoz with a strong perspective and a completely different product in a crowded space.
When we built this strategic narrative, I also imagined a way to symbolize it physically: by simply cutting a piece of network cable.
This took less than 30 seconds to make and it takes less than 30 seconds to understand.