What heralds a company, as well as the individuals relevant to it, through the fog of uncertainty of change, is the purpose.
Today, more than ever, CEOs are required not only to properly embody the purpose they carry for their businesses, but also to ensure a shared purpose with their key business stakeholders – from consumers, employees, via partners, to immediate or wider community.
Although it may seem like a common sense approach to doing business, and despite the years that companies have spent looking for ways to create strong bonds with internal and external audiences alike, current unprecedented technological developments, notably the ones in ICT sector, that keep reshaping the way we communicate and changing the way companies interact with their consumers, have set a new stage for corporate doings requiring radical transparency in business operations and clear demonstration of authenticity.
The history has shown how technological advancements bring about change in social dynamics and create new roles to be embraced. The role of companies has clearly shifted towards a horizontal organisation in which the individual, who is no longer to be referred to as a mere consumer or user, is put in the centre of the business model. This is what ensures both short-term and long-term efficiency and growth. This is also what has brought the communications in the centre of the business model, because only solid relationship with the individual and through individual with the community is a guarantee for overall sustainability. This puts corporate narrative under additional scrutiny continuously testing trust, genuineness and contribution to common good.
This is where strategic narrative has become increasingly important, not only as a point of differentiation in the marketplace, but as a framework to strategically shape the business model, tactically plan activities and manage overall company conduct making the business more resilient in the times of change.
Strategic narrative is what shapes and guides business strategy. It articulates the business defining its purpose and creating the meaning for the individual going forward. The strategic narrative considers a journey that the business takes the individual on to contribute to the envisaged future. Envisaging the future for the individual and the community is bound to be underpinned with values that are both individual and collective while being backed with activities to demonstrate commitment to the long-term betterment.
Making a strategic narrative the backbone of the business is what makes a difference. It makes business objectives directly relevant for the business stakeholders, and furthermore, it makes them embrace and engage with them for a long term shared purpose. Also, by framing the business activities in the nest of purpose, strategic narrative keeps business decisions continuously on the right track, thus reducing the risk of turbulent circumstances and unpredictable events.
Implementing strategic narrative properly as part of the way business is operated can often be a part of a necessary business transformation, and as such present CEO with many challenges and resistance. By being put before such a task, for a leader to be successful, the purpose is to be matched with the right mindset, making sure that strategic narrative is cascaded and embodied through various work streams including human resources, marketing, sales, operations, IT, logistics, to name the main ones, but also through the capillary work streams such as administration, procurement, partnerships of all kinds, etc.
Defining an authentic strategic narrative requires a comprehensive diagnosis of business both internally and externally combined with the analysis of its environment and the anticipation of economic, industrial, social and cultural trends. The efforts and skills needed to embody the strategic narrative is what constitute a large part of leader’s charisma. However, its smooth implementation across all levels of organisation is a disciplined, step-by-step, well crafted process that allows a leader to demonstrate authenticity, preserve consistency and focus on long-term goals, while implementing a highly agile management style.
Guiding Light in the Times of Innovation and Change
In the midst of a highly transformative environment with growing need for innovation, strategic narrative creates a solid context to facilitate business operations by creating internal culture that thrives, by keeping partners motivated to partake and inspiring consumers to embark on a common journey to the future.
However, acknowledging the significance of a strategic narrative is merely a starting point. As the fast evolving technology pierces all aspects of human life in an effort to make it more efficient, faster and surprisingly personal, one is under growing pressure to make sense and differentiate in the magnitude of content.
Discerning narratives that one consumes has always been relevant, but today it has become a requirement not to be ignored. With the hyper production of content available on one side, and the phenomena that seem to undermine traditional trust in public discourse on the other, the individual is pushed towards growing critical thinking and continuously evaluating trustworthiness and authenticity of all content they are exposed to. This is the evolution process that may seem like a long run, but it is inevitable, and it is the one that we have already embarked as individuals as well as an audience.
The strategic narrative has become the critical point of differentiation for an individual to make sense of the world around them. Growing a purpose driven business, therefore, requires the right strategic narrative to be embodied throughout the communications and management flow, making sure the decisions and activities across all levels of organisation are aligned with its purpose. It is what keeps the business strategy on the right track, reducing hesitations and crisis interruptions when faced with change. As the society evolves and shifts, it is the guiding light for creating meaning and building solid and stable relationships with individuals, thus making a genuine contribution to the community advancement.
by Maja Šotra