Corporate Narrative? Your company definitely has one, though it might not be defined. Do you know what your Corporate Narrative is or should be?.Are you concerned with communicating it? And the subject of this blog, are you using stories to convey your corporate narrative?
Let me start at the beginning (like all good stories!). Let’s first consider what the difference is between a story and a narrative. In my mind a story has a beginning a middle and an end. It tends to have limits. A narrative on the other hand is much more of open ended. But in many respects there are elements of a story in a narrative and vice versa.
There are those who define a Corporate Narrative somewhat differently. John Hagel of Deloitte makes it clear that a narrative is definitely not a story. In his mind it seems that a Corporate Narrative is a mere description of a company’s vision, values and aspirations.These are all incredibly valuable things to have in their own right. But in trying to redefine the word ‘narrative’, we are losing the value of the story in conveying the narrative.
I agree that certainly vision, values, beliefs and aspirations are part of a Corporate Narrative, but I do not think we should lose the story-telling elements of a great corporate narrative.
It all comes back to one of my central themes of business. There is a great tendency to over complicate really quite simple concepts. You can use stories to convey your Corporate Narrative; you can use stories to bring it all to life. And, even more importantly, we can all tell stories; we have all heard stories.Stories are familiar to us.
So here is what I would do (or indeed have done).
- Determine the desired “Corporate Narrative” What does your company want to stand for? What is its Vision? What are its aspiration?
- Dig into the company’s corporate memory and the individual memories of its people to find “stories” that exemplify the desired corporate narrative.After all, in all likelihood the Corporate Narrative stems from these stories anyway.
- Check there is no dissonance between the desired corporate narrative and the supporting stories.
You can then use your stories to convey you “Corporate Narrative”. In my experience the process becomes much more engaging and way easier to communicate.
And as a last thought. If we struggle to understand the exact nature of a Corporate Narrative, imagine what your consumers, clients or employees feel. But we all understand stories!