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How to craft a business strategy with a story

by | Feb 20, 2023

Business strategy is usually born of a highly rational process, grounded in facts and analysis. Storytelling, often associated with fiction and entertainment, may seem like the antithesis of strategy.

But the two are not incompatible.

This is a great article in the ever-insightful Harvard Business Review on why your strategy needs a story. This struck a chord with me today as I’m running a workshop this afternoon on how to develop your presentation and pitch content for a group of media-agency folk. This is before the groups work with one of our storytelling pros later this week.

We’ve been running our popular Storytelling Ninja workshops for many years now working with professional storytellers, writers and performers to make the sessions immersive and fun.

And what really makes them work and then crucially stick after the training is being really clear to start with on how your story can support your key argument or message, and building out from there. It might sound obvious but I find it’s not always the case.

In my experience, sometimes when people think about storytelling in business, it can be overwhelming to start with. Many people think that is has to be a personal story which can make them feel vulnerable, nervous or unsure. And they don’t know where to begin.

A story can be told from many perspectives – but it must relate to the presentation in some way. How about a:

  1. Brand story
  2. Origin story – founder or brand
  3. Customer story
  4. Product use story
  5. Competitor story
  6. Mission or vision story
  7. Product story
  8. Employee story
  9. Community story
  10. Fan story
  11. Investor story
  12. There are so many more!

Any argument on paper is only the starting point for engaging those who you need to motivate to follow you or implement a strategy. The rational ideas need to be imbued with emotion. Through stories, ‘mere’ facts and information are turned into a shared mental model of how the business works and where it is heading. So this article has a brilliantly simple framework for helping to think about a narrative, craft a story and structure it.

This is something we do working with individuals and teams and I will add this to our resources for both our how to devise strategy training and storytelling training! As they say:

“Well-told stories make both the teller and the listener wiser.”

You can read the full Harvard Business Review ‘Your Strategy Needs A Story’ article here.

Ready to jump in and find out more about how your team can craft emotional and compelling stories learning from our exclusive masterclasses led by professional storytellers and experts? Find out more about our Storytelling Masterclass here.