Embedding strategy using a story spine

Posted by Shawn Callahan - December 18, 2012
Filed in Strategic clarity

One of the challenges embedding a strategy is helping people relate their job to it. Strategies often seems distant and abstract. How does a person in one of the far flung corners of the organisation contribute to the pursuit of a new corporate strategy?

This simple technique is based on the idea that we don’t really understand something until we can tell ourselves a story to explain it.

So why not help people tell a story about their job and the new strategy with a story spine.

Readers of this blog were introduced to story spines in 2007. They’re a simple story structure that can be used to help people construct a story. They look something like this:

Way back when…
Everyday…
But one day…
Because of that… (repeat three times or as often as necessary) Until finally…
Ever since then…

Imagine asking people to create a story that explains how their job relates to the new strategy using this story spine,

Way back when…
Everyday…
But one day we were told of our new strategy
Because of that… (repeat three times or as often as necessary) Until finally…
Ever since then…

Of course the cynics will say, “yes, and because of that I ducked for cover and kept doing exactly what I did before the new strategy was announced…” In which case if you can get people to share these stories they provide incredible insights into your company culture.

But I find this doesn’t happen when story spines are created in groups. In fact, amazing insights emerge for your teams.

Let me know how you go using story spines or if you have any good story spine stories to tell.

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