PURPOSE DRIVEN STORYTELLING
MAKING A DIFFERNCE
“We need to be more effective”
“We have to break down silo thinking”
“We need to re-organize.”
These are well-known statements from private and public companies that are undergoing change management. But it’s also statements that can be hard to comprehend for employees who haven’t spent days, months or years discussing the content and reasons behind the change. What do terms as rationalizing, globalization, strategy-change and process-optimization really mean? And what does it mean for the company, the department and for each employee?
“And why exactly is it that we need to do things differently?”
“Why isn’t it okay, to do like we used to?”
“What about my department and the work that I do?”
The implementation of new processes, new strategies new systems or new behaviour is demanding. It requires dedication and it requires a strong management. And, especially, communication.
CONVOLUTED MANAGEMENT TERMS
A global study has shown that 80% of 450 participating companies didn’t feel that their employees understood their strategy particularly well. And if employees don’t understand the strategy, it doesn’t have a chance of affecting their day-to-day decisions. Which ultimately is the purpose of any new strategy. Or an existing one, for that matter.
This link between corporate strategy and employees is crucial, and it can be strengthened in a number of ways. The traditional methods are PowerPoint presentations, pdf-email attachments or workshops. But because this type of communication is often based on convoluted management terms, the messages can sometimes be hard to comprehend and understand for employees – no matter the means of communication.
Management lingo needs to be translated into a common language, making the key messages easier to understand. And they must be presented in the right context to enhance the effects on recipients – so they embrace the ideas and remember them going forward.
That can be done through a narration – through a story. But one thing is content, the meaning of it and remembering it, another thing is to understand the underlying reasons why, accept those reasons and eventually adopt the strategy personally.
The most important question to answer is always ‘why’.
Why do we need to do things in a different way?
Why is this important to me?
Why should I care?
Storytelling is an incredible powerful tool. And the answer to this ‘why’ often makes up the premise for the story that needs to be told.
That’s why it’s of outmost importance that the recipient buys into the premise; the burning platform and the reasons for the change in behaviour.
To identify this premise is, however, not necessarily easy. It has to be sincere and it has to be real. It also has to be acceptable to the entire target audience, without pointing fingers at any particular people or department.
But with the right premise – the right answer to the right why – the potential for success is huge. In this way the reasons for change are clear and relatable, and the recipients are engaged and committed to both story and strategy.
A great story provides context, meaning and credence to a strategy. It makes the employees feel important to the mission ahead – as a crucial part of the community.
THE PURPOSE AND THE STORY
In the development phase of the story it’s important to reach an acceptable consensus between key stakeholders. Everyone has to agree on the imagery and the overarching storyline. Especially in relation to the intrinsic values apparent in and around the company.
This is where the purpose meets the story. A process where the necessity to communicate meets the way to communicate. The two must come together in one voice – one story which is is memorable and relatable. And if it’s done right the story provides food for thought and a basis for reflection. Which, in the end, will provide a better understanding of why things need to be done differently. And that’s the first (and most important) step to change.