A common complaint we hear from CEOs is, “I don’t get why people keep saying they don’t understand our strategy. I talk about it all the time!” It’s no wonder researchers tell us that 80% of C Suite executives are confident that they can create a winning strategy but only 30% are confident that they can implement their strategic plan effectively. How do you bridge the gap between what people hear and what they do – being confident that your organization understands your strategy and is taking aligned action to implement it?
We love helping leaders define a strategy they are excited to lead. When leaders set a context for change that enlivens and energizes people and organizations, great things happen more quickly and with less money and effort. We believe humans are story-telling beings and when you take a deeper look at the stories that have shaped the generations, they all follow a similar pattern – it was true for Beowulf and the Wizard of Oz to Star Wars. Many organizations (including several of our clients) use stories as a way to achieve organizational alignment and connect people to strategy. The stories people tell about themselves and their organizations shape the futures they have available to them.
Collaboratively crafting this compelling story, then tapping into the inherent wisdom and pent-up desire to contribute within the organization gives leaders and employees something they can connect to and get excited about. Only then can they begin making a meaningful difference right away.
Using a strategy story to shape your strategic plan and to sustain change follows a four-step approach:
We recently worked with a large, regional healthcare system to deploy a dramatic new strategy that would impact their patient experience, workforce experience and accelerate future growth. We partnered with their senior team and Chief Strategy Officer to gain executive alignment and translate their vision into a strategy story they were excited to tell. Through a series of sessions with their top 200 leaders, we prepared them to engage their teams in conversations guided by the strategy story. Within a few short weeks the entire workforce of 11,000 were engaged in the strategy and working together in their teams to align their actions with the new vision.
Organizations that take this approach often find their periods of change to be fun, rewarding, and meaningful occasions that reinforce and reaffirm their most deeply held commitments even as they grow and evolve. These companies tend to produce out-sized results and the people who work there and communities they touch are all the better for it.