Well-meaning strategies by leadership teams often flop. They somehow fall by the wayside. So that - in effect - they are of no effect.
Do you recognise this? It is a huge source of frustration to business leaders I meet with regularly.
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Why? Why is it that great ideas do not get traction? That staff do not buy into them or seemingly take them seriously?
Well, one reason could be that the strategy has not been communicated effectively. And I don't mean its facts. I mean its emotion. Strategies being communicated in graphs, data and poorly designed materials with-out real emotional meaning are destined to fail.
But how do you communicate, not simply what the strategy is, but why it exists? How do you do this to notice and encourage action? My answer: stories.
Stories are the glue that sticks strategy together. Stories are the thing that gets people going. That get traction. That communicate purpose and meaning. That make things human.
Physiologically stories help to encourage action because they help uscreate meaning.
Four ways stories help strategy stick
Emotionally connect When we are listening to stories neurological regions in our brain are engaged that incite action and movement. Through stories, we sympathise, gain courage, worry, pick up on dangers and look forward in hope. These are much more powerful than facts and figures and so strategies need to be communicated emotionally not simply as data.
Memory recall When we are emotionally moved by a story our brains release powerful chemicals - one of which is dopamine. These chemicals help us to remember things. We can recall the experience with a much higher level of accuracy than if no emotional response is stirred within us.
Increase empathy According to psychologists, stories help us understand others’ thoughts and emotions. Our brains are wired to consider other human emotions which spur us into action - and stories are crucial to engaging us in this.
Encourages cooperation Stories where we sympathise with a character cause our brains to produce oxytocin. This hormone helps motivate us toward cooperation with others.
So when you need your people to take action - whether you are cascading your next strategy from the board room out to the rest of your people, or if you simply are making a presentation, consider the story.
How are you telling that story? Have you worked out all of the characters in the story? What type of plot-line is it? Are your materials all aligned with this story? Is it strong? Is it emotional? Have you designed your delivery? Are your comms considered and consistent with your message? Considered how you will follow up? Ensured that emotions have been stirred?
Stories create meaning and for strategies to be meaningful they need to be communicated in story.