You Have a Strategy But Do You Have a Compelling Story?

Does your organization have a story that is the heartbeat of your strategy? Does the organizational narrative capture everyone’s imagination and inspire all to give of their best?

In my experience I hear so many well crafted strategies but seldom do I see them backed up with a story that grabs employees and the public at an emotional level. Without a compelling story your organizational strategy is weak-kneed at its very best.

For many the story on your Company’s website may simply evoke a big yawn. Any similar business could have the same motto. So you say that you want to be a strategic partner with your customers? What competitor does not aspire towards the same goal? The question is whether

Your story inspires you to show up for work each day?

Here is why stories are so important.

First, stories touch our emotions, making them highly memorable because we remember best what we powerfully feel. The leader who wants to be the most persuasive must have a story line that resonates with what the audience strongly feels and values. This will increase the likelihood of buy-in for the vision or idea being presented.

Secondstories breathe life into statistics. When we read a newspaper article where hundreds of people have perished in an earthquake, our intellect registers the news and although we may think the news is terrible, we somehow remain detached from it. But, when we read the harrowing personal story of a survivor emerging from the rubble after her family had given up hope that she was alive, our emotions are triggered and the story takes on a completely different quality-it becomes real, urgent, and palpable.

Third, stories have the power to orient people towards the greater good. Anything that smacks of being self-centered will turn an audience off. A “What’s he/she trying to get out of me?” audience response is the death-knell of any speech. A powerful story must step into the real world of the audience and mirror what they believe to be good for their organization. They need to be left with the feeling “We can make a difference in this important area.” Such a response insures that they will heed your organization’s call to action and in so doing make your proposed idea theirs as well.

Your story always represents your aspirations. It tells others where you want to go as an organization. You talk about inclusion and diversity. However, you realize that your organization still has a long way to go. You never reach your goal but you know what it is. You are always in the process of continual improvement and are passionate that strategic objective

Without a compelling story your strategy lacks life, fails to engage employees and customers, and in the end fails miserably.


About cedricj

I am a licensed psychologist and management consultant and have always been intrigued by how leaders can inspire people in their organizations. The bottom line is that people are not always motivated by material rewards, the use of the carrot or the stick, fear and intimidation,and command and control, Five human needs inspire and drive us. Kristine S MacKain, Ph.D and myself describe these inspirational forces in our book "What Inspirational Leaders Do" (Kindle 2008)
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