What’s your story?
It’s shocking how many organizations struggle to answer that question.
Sure, they may be making money today and appear to be doing well, but their success has limits. They might understand where they’ve come from, but they aren’t sure how they got where they are and they sure don’t know where they’re going. The limiting factor is that they don’t have a compelling story.
When a company has a story, it gives it purpose. As wildly successful venture capitalist Ben Horowitz wrote in his book The Hard Thing About the Hard Things (great book; read it), successful organizations know that the company story is the company strategy.
“Strategy” is defined as a plan of action designed to achieve a major goal. A “story” is a report of connected events that lead to a conclusion, with heroes seeking to overcome obstacles to achieve something. Look at it this way—the strategy is the story brought to life. It demonstrates how the strategy can connect to the context in which you’re operating. A strategy is the story, activated.
This seems really important, yeah?
And yet, a lot of companies can’t give you a compelling reason for their existence (making a lot of money is not your why; it’s doubtful that many customers would be inspired by your need to fill your pockets). These companies spend countless hours focusing on specific objectives, financial goals and ways to increase performance and consider them to be the fundamentals of their business.. They’re important, but the purpose of the company cannot take a backseat to these more operational aspects of the business.
How can you determine your objectives before you know your purpose? Your purpose is your story.
When you answer why, you provide purpose to everyone that touches the organization—employees, partners, customers—everyone. Why is the essence of your story.
For instance, at Scribewise, our purpose is to create “trust through storytelling.” Our mission is to “drive growth for our clients through content marketing.”
Your story creates an emotional bond with your customers, employees and other stakeholders. Stories inspire. They pull people in. Stories are the foundation of successful companies.
A story details where you’ve been and where you’re going. It is not your history; rather, it’s a compelling narrative that focuses on how you help your customers—the heroes of this story—succeed.
Your story provides a path to get through the difficult times. It’s a GPS that you can refer to when you’re not sure which direction you should head in, or when you feel as if you’re lost. It details what is important to your company.
In other words, it is your strategy.