How to stop executives becoming grammar nazis when defining their purpose

Posted by  Shawn Callahan —July 28, 2010
Filed in Strategy

In our work to help organisations make their strategies stick we often start by helping the executives get clear on their purpose. Why does their enterprise exist? If you have facilitated these types of sessions you probably seen this happen a million times: the group circles in on the essence of what’s important and then suddenly they get bogged down nit picking words and trying to incorporate every possibility. In large organisation each executive wants to ensure their part of the business is included in the purpose statement and if you let this happen you end up with mush.

Here’s what I do which makes a big difference. Just when they start to get bogged down I call a time out and ask them to watch this video.

From that point on everyone refers back to the Dan’s messages and pull each other up when they start acting like a 10th grade school teacher and we move along at pace.

Here is an example of a purpose statement we helped deliver from the Transport Accident Commission: “A future where every journey is a safe one.”

It’s interesting to note that Dan uses a story to get his message across and clever use of animated graphics.

About  Shawn Callahan

Shawn, author of Putting Stories to Work, is one of the world's leading business storytelling consultants. He helps executive teams find and tell the story of their strategy. When he is not working on strategy communication, Shawn is helping leaders find and tell business stories to engage, to influence and to inspire. Shawn works with Global 1000 companies including Shell, IBM, SAP, Bayer, Microsoft & Danone. Connect with Shawn on:

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