The Company is the Message

For the last three years, I have been on a journey to develop corporate narratives into something of value. The journey included a lot of reading, debating, white-boarding, unlearning, learning and relearning. After facilitating 18 immersions and designing as many corporate narratives, I observed the following on an aggregate level:

  • For many companies, it was the first time the executive team had gotten together as a whole multi-disciplined unit to discuss who they are and why they exist as a entity. It became extremely important to allow voices from across the company to participate, as some of the best input came from the least expected places. When was the last time you got your executive team together to talk about who you are as a company and why you exist?
  • Discussing the value of the company (validation for what they do) was a sticking point for many. The point of differentiation for how a company see’s itself vs. its competition was filled with confirmation bias, until a fresh lens was applied to really shine a light on what I call the “so what” factors. When was the last time you really measured your competition and understood their scenarios vs. yours?
  • When talking about vision and projecting a future state 3–5 years out, I was struck by how tactical and incremental the thinking was in the room. I learned that it is hard to think in magnitudes and leaps without a stimulus. We are not conditioned to think that way in our daily grind. When was the last time you challenged the conventional thinking in your company to be exponential vs. linear?

As we speed into the future at ever increasing rates, companies and individuals are dealing with a multitude of fragmenting external forces and shifting belief systems. Systems driven by short term, if not moment to moment thinking. Responsive vs. Initiating types of actions. Are you a thought leader or a responder to a thought leader?

We continue to witness — on a daily basis — the importance of owning a strong company narrative, one that combines both fast and slow thinking. One that is based on being real and addressing situations before they fester into death spirals. As many organizations are realizing — The Company is the Message. Get it wrong, you pay the price.

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