Many (actually most) companies lack a strong strategic narrative.
In my first years post-Tableau, while transitioning into advising, board work, and speaking, I met with literally hundreds of executives. Over these coffees, meals, and happy hours, I sat down with over 100 CEOs, more than 30 venture capitalists and private equity investors, and dozens of founders and go-to-market leaders to discuss best practices for growing and scaling a high-performing team.
The vast majority of these leaders were leading companies with disruptive and compelling products, with vast market opportunities. Yet, they all wanted to scale bigger, faster. And most felt they could be better at communicating their story to the world.
Digging in, it was clear that many of these companies had internal alignment issues. Sales, Marketing, and Product teams were often on different pages. They had different ideas about what they should be building, who they should be selling to, and what exactly their future should look like.
When invited into a company, I’d meet with multiple members of the executive team — founders, CEO, chief revenue officer, chief marketing officer, CFO, sometimes the head of HR. I’d ask each person to share the company’s mission, vision, and story. To share why their company exists. Believe it or not, a significant percentage of the time, each person would have a different answer. Baffling, I know!
Without a unifying strategic narrative, everyone had their own unique opinion of the company’s mission and why. When five people say (and believe) five different things, it’s no wonder why people are racing in different directions.
Building and scaling a company is tough. If people are not aligned with where they are headed, this becomes nearly impossible.
Your strategic narrative is your company manifesto. It serves as the North Star for everyone at the company, permeating everything you do from product roadmap, to customer conversations, to website and branding, to industry and investor analyst discussions, to recruiting, and the list goes on and on.
Your strategic narrative communicates who you are and why you exist. It is critical to get this right.
So, what are the key components of a strong strategic narrative? And where do companies tend to get this wrong? I’ve jotted it all down this issue of The Edge – my monthly newsletter for executives. Check it out and let me know what you think.