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Are you aiming for strategy or strategic clarity?

Posted by  Mark Schenk —May 25, 2015
Filed in Business storytelling

Having a business strategy is important. Ensuring all staff understand the strategy is even more important. And it all starts with the senior leaders having a clear and consistent understanding of where you are going and why.

Lou Gerstner summed it up well:

All strategies are essentially the same; the difference is execution. And to execute well you need:

  • world class systems and processes
  • a high performance culture, and
  • strategic clarity

But achieving strategic clarity is harder than it might seem. For example, Kaplan and Norton [2005] shared that their research showed that 95% of staff do not know their organisation’s strategy.

Convert your business strategy into a strategy story

I had a recent experience that showed once again that converting business strategy into a strategy story can help align leaders and provide clarity for employees.

In March I ran a 1.5 day Storytelling for Leaders workshop in the Philippines for a global beverage company. It was my first time there and the venue was stunning: crystal clear waters and sandy beaches.

Storytelling for Leaders workshop Philippines

The day before I arrived the group worked on developing their strategy. The next morning they spent 2 hours reviewing their agreements from the previous day.

I was an observer for this session and what struck me was the many different opinions about what they had agreed and what they should now commit to. People were scrambling to grab the microphone to have their say and disagree with what others were proposing.

After covering some of the fundamentals of business storytelling, we spent half a day converting the strategy they’d developed into a strategic story. Groups worked on explaining the four key strategic decisions facing the company and we then consolidated them into a single story.

The rewarding outcome of telling strategy as a story

The outcome was very rewarding.

At the end of the offsite, the group spent about 90 minutes reviewing the strategy and its implications. This time, there was a very respectful dialogue. Most participants were aligned behind the new strategy and were building on the perspectives of their colleagues.

And the entire change was due to having a concrete story explaining what they wanted to achieve and why. The only major change that occurred had been forcing them to be concrete and specific by telling their strategy as a story.

The main themes from the participant feedback was the value of the strategy story process… and that there should have been more time allocated to take advantage of the magnificent venue. I thought this was very important feedback and had a late afternoon dive before leaving the island.

Mark Schenk About  Mark Schenk

Mark works globally with senior leadership teams to improve their ability to communicate clearly and memorably. He has been a Director of Anecdote since 2004 and helped the company grow into one of the world’s leading business storytelling consultancies. Connect with Mark on:

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