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Strategic Narrative: A Compelling Voice For Businesses

The leaders may be setting the direction, road map and the end destination of the narrative it is important of the employees to see their individual clear role to get the organization there

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In the modern world the changes are dynamic than ever before. The areas include consumer behavior, technology, regulation competition and talent. It is therefore a common among the senior executives to say'' We need a new Narrative''.

We need to construct a lucid story that is a source of inspiration for partners and attracts customers who look for long term engagement. The story should be well integrated with the vision of the country or at micro level say a company. It communicates the strategy and in the process embodies the culture.

A strategic narrative focuses on the special type of story as to what the company or country stands for . It clearly defines the past performances, current circumstances and outlines the future roadmap. It gives the performance measuring metrics as to how the value has been created and propositions in having relationships. It explains the reason for existence and what makes a company or country unique. The narrative tells a lot about the competitive landscape led by the leadership team with a customer centric approach.

Shared purpose
The shared purpose is the cornerstone of strategic narrative. It is working with the customers or people of the country for the final objective that creates value. It s a journey that takes place with key stakeholders and in the process there is a paradigm shift of relationship from consumer to the co creators.

The main objective of the strategic narrative is to bring to light as to how strategic narrative will be fulfilled. Take an example of IBM. It organized its marketing under the shared purpose of building smart planet between 2008-2015 .Their former CEO clearly explained how the day to day operations were becoming more interconnected ,instrumented and intelligent .According to him they would for sure become more smarter by infusing intelligence into the system.

The roles necessary to fulfill the shared purpose is another function of shared narrative .Nike has a mission to bring inspiration to every athlete in the world. It encourages inspiring  each other as a part of the narrative . In effect, Nike says "We'll bring the shoes, the equipment and the clothing; you bring your drive, your discipline and your competitive spirit." It's a narrative that goes far beyond the products Nike sells.

Strategic narrative need as compelling plot as they are form of storytelling .By doing these stakeholders understand their presence and know how they can contribute in shaping the future of the organization.

The advantage of strategic narrative can be numerous. It positions the change in highly revered manner without disrespecting the hard work of the past leaders and the time they invested in building up the organization .In the process it creates an inclusive environment engaging the stakeholders in a meaningful dialogues encompassing strategic intent aligning people by setting up a stage .It helps in reinforcing the inherent company values embedded in the organizational fabric with forward looking approach .The leaders appear more human through the strategic narrative allowing them to connect their personal growth stories into the equation .By doing this they appear more sympathetic connecting with people and aligning them towards change .In the process the employees retain and assimilate information which can have profound impact inspiring and motivating. This allows the stakeholders to see themselves with purposeful bigger context.

 The question arises as to how do you draft strategic narrative. The purpose to engage stakeholders as a tool for effective communications, encouraging the change to take place through elimination of old bad habits or mentalities hence helping in the transition process. Crafting impactful narrative requires effort and is an intensive process.

The first step is to bring all stake holders perspectives bring the team together validating the underlying assumptions .It is important to take their suggestions and feedback gaining valuable information about the company which can add to the existing knowledge and hence refining the strategy making it more relatable .There should be a discussion of the current and future possibilities .It is necessary to identify the right occasion and appropriate delivery vehicle to for sharing the message .The target audience needs to be specified with their aspirations and mindset taken into consideration . To be more effective the message needs to reiterate. Then it is important to collaborate to create a final draft making sure that key stakeholder's views and perspectives have been accounted for .Pitching to selected target audience should be carefully calibrated .Finally monitor and measure the progress and delivery of the narrative so that it is extremely effective and impactful.

The strategic narrative sets the compelling case for the future direction of the organization and the reason for that trajectory. It's a compelling work that is purpose driven for the meaning at the corporate work and what really contributes for such type of the engagement. The end result can be the improvement in the employee engagement.

There are various stages of crafting the strategic narrative.

Value, Develop and Add.

The value determines what does the strategic narrative stands for, how it is being developed and the last means what value it really adds and how do you fill the important stuff.

The best place to start is creating a sustaininable story to understand why one might the importance of the strategic narrative and what is the value proposition. The part of this component is to add employees with the common purpose and the direction. The employees usually remember the fairy story tales with an impactful message. The story that has been passed down to the generations which has the potential to unite the societies and communities through their contributions and the uniqueness. The Narrative can do the exactly the same with the greater commitments, alignment and the focus from the employees.

The second stage is the context for change allowing them to relate to their experiences and which has the potential to be more like to engage and strategic narrative explains the change in a clearer manner.

The next stage is how you keep the strategic narrative alive through outlining the plan of actions and path of journey. The space and time duration is determined with the method of learning adoption and desired destination. This can be made sustaining especially in the fast changing environment.

The next stage is to develop the strategy by encouraging the leaders with your own strategic narrative to create a story. It is important to understand how to actually structure the entire narrative .One way is to begin with the interviews and together with the business leaders and the employees through the ideation and the themes. Once this is done the focus should be on the structure by bringing and encouraging the entire group for structured focused initiatives with the end result in mind.

The structure of the narrative has important components like why are we doing this and where do we go from here .What are the future needs and how are we going to get there.

The next stage is to keep the story alive .It has some of the non negotiable elements to keep the things on the right track .It is expected for the employees to own it, that really works well for their team. The employees need to understand the implications with longevity in mind and how do they reinforce the ideas .This can be done through utilizing the meetings and the internal commons by connecting the business decisions to back the concrete story. Once this is done the next step is to put the plan together as to how this can be done to encourage the ideas to be involved in the entire process. Updating in reference to the strategic narrative is also very important either in intervals of 6,12,18 months which might be needing improvement at regular intervals .

The last step is what you add to the strategic narrative -Like purpose and the vision .James Collins and the Jerry Porras clearly articulated that the companies that have the clear vision and clear purpose envisioned future. The next is that really enjoying the enduring success. The clear purpose helps the employees reaffirm why they should be a part of the organization , the envision inspires them for better future with the hope as what can be achieved .It inspires the people by pulling them all together towards common goals and aspiration. It communicates what are the benefits that can be created for building business, getting new customers, stakeholders and the employees alike.

John Kotter in his book ' Leading change identifies the need to establish the sense of urgency for the change by understanding the current reality of where the business is .It also elaborates the challenges the business faces .In doing so the dramatic tension of the narrative needs the order and hence is captured through the audience 's attention .The narrative doesn't needs to be restricted to just good news .Its is extremely healthy for the organization to share not so good as the means of demonstrating some of the indispensable benefits .

Lastly, the role of the employees needs to be given a greater importance. The leaders may be setting the direction, road map and the end destination of the narrative it is important of the employees to see their individual clear role to get the organization there. It is imperative for the employees to see clearly their role that can relate to their path at work .Hence in the great strategic narrative employees are the heroes of the story led by an introspective leader.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Divakar Prakash

The author is a Strategy Consultant with experience of consulting CEO level executives and key stakeholders in Real Estate , Government, Not for Profit, FMCG and Chemical sectors. Educated at the School of Management ,University of St-Andrews consistently a top ranked institution in Europe at Master's level in business Strategy, Corporate Finance and General Management

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