When entering the process of digital transformation, there are many obstacles that could potentially stand in your way – and as a CEO or entrepreneur, you need to be prepared to address them. Risk aversion, silo mentality, and a lack of customer focus can all cause problems that prevent you from succeeding throughout digital transformation. By creating a strategic narrative that guides you into the future, however, you can remove barriers and position your company more effectively, moving your organization into a position of thought leadership and putting you at the forefront of your industry.
Digital transformation across industries
An increasing number of companies are finding themselves impacted by the need for digital transformation. The biggest barrier standing in their way, however, is the company’s culture. If this sounds familiar, it may be that you lack an IT structure, don’t have a solid understanding of digital trends, or don’t have an in-house team with a strong talent for digital tactics. Fortunately, if your company is struggling to make that key transformation, there are tools in place that will help you reach out to both employees and customers in the digital age. As the CEO or entrepreneur in charge of your own company, you’re ideally positioned to transform your existing company culture, shape your customers‘ understanding of your company, and shift the way your company operates in order to embrace the new digital era.
The value of the strategic narrative
Customers want to feel connected to the companies that they give their business. They want companies that reflect their values, support the things that matter to them, and offer the answers to common problems that they face every day. In increasingly complex company cultures, however, many corporate strategies – that have long worked successfully for connecting with customers – fail to define and direct company culture effectively into the digital future. By creating a solid strategic narrative and ensuring that it’s used in everyday communications both within the company and with customers, you can create a fresh opportunity to increase your company’s connection to the customers who support your business and encourage employees to get on board with the company’s overall vision. Not only that, your strategic narrative is an excellent opportunity to share your changing digital journey with both customers and employees, providing them with an idea of the vision that will continue to shape your company in the coming years.
Creating your strategic narrative
You’re on board with the creation of a strategic narrative – but where do you start? Creating your narrative begins with collaboration. Gather your peers and other leaders in your company. It’s not just the managers who are important; rather, you need to connect with the people who are moving your digital journey forward, your marketing and sales team, and anyone else who works with customers on a regular basis. Employees who help create that essential narrative are more likely to own it – and that means they’ll be more likely to stay on the same page you are.
Step one: ask the right questions
Your company is in the middle of a journey of digital transformation. In order to shape your strategic narrative, to start with, make sure you ask the right questions about your current position, where you expect to go, and what you’d like to accomplish. Focus on identifying the customer problems that need to be solved.
In some cases, you can use a familiar narrative structure, from the hero’s journey to a familiar form of conflict. In other cases, simply asking where you are, where you’re going, and how you’ll get there is sufficient to get the discussion on your strategic direction going.
Step two: capture the future
The most compelling narratives use the past to shape the future through the present. As you work with the thought leaders throughout the company, consider your vision for the company’s future. What is it that you’re hoping to accomplish through your digital transformation? Don’t just set out bullet points. Instead, use words to craft a powerful picture of exactly where the company is heading. Be sure to include information about how the steps you’re taking today are intended to shape that incredible vision of the future.
Step three: define the larger purpose
Your strategic narrative isn’t just a defining statement for the company. It also brings together the company as a whole, individual employees, and your customers. Customers like it when companies offer a mission that they can get behind, whether it’s inspiring, compelling, or solving a problem. Not only that, they like to feel as though they’re part of something bigger than themselves. Use your company narrative to create that connection to the company’s larger purpose.
Step four: focus on the core
One proven way to continue developing your strategic narrative is to apply variations of design thinking. This method is able to solve complex problems and find great solutions in short iterations – which makes it an excellent tool for solving your digital transformation journey. Design thinking is result-focused and action-oriented, helping you more effectively create a plan that will help your company reach its goals.
Saying this, your strategic narrative doesn’t have to be extensive – and in fact, it shouldn’t be. Take out the fluff and leave your employees and your customers with a strong, brief description that will allow them to get a good look at what the company is planning to accomplish without losing their attention. Consider using a template or tool that will help you share your vision and your narrative while still confining you to a reasonable amount of space. This will force you to clarify your thinking and help improve employee and customer engagement. In many cases, creating a strong infographic or brief paragraph is the best way to ensure that customers are able to see the information you’re providing in a compelling format.
Step five: walk the talk
Encourage your peers to share the final vision with the employees in their departments. Spread outward: share your company narrative through social media and other channels. Put the narrative on your website so that customers can refer back to it over time. As the CEO of your company, you may have more professional contacts on your personal pages, so share your narrative there, as well.
Creating a strong company narrative doesn’t just create connection within the company. It shapes the way your company will operate in the years to come, creating a sense of clarity and connection that will help keep your company on track toward the digital transformation you need in order to remain at the forefront of your industry. It’s time to define your journey.