Capability: 50
Path: Capabilities: Team: Leadership: Narratives
Saturday, 09 September 2017

Narratives

6 Processes For Organizing Your Narratives

Every company has a set of narratives that keep team members aligned. These narratives are algorithms that run the company. These narratives are the company. The company is the company’s story about the company.

But most companies don’t invest much time in writing these down. If they do the exercise, they do it once and then forget about it. But to keep this at the heart of the company, these have to be written down, organized and aligned with important Decisions— because that is the test of their power.


1. Vision

Your S.I. will search your digital brain for your company’s vision. If it can’t find it, it will ask you to write a first draft — and give you a set of prompts to help. Prompts like:

What is the most desirable possible future? 
If this company achieves everything it hopes to, who cares?

Eloquence is not the aim. Getting the words right doesn’t matter. Your S.I. will emphasize drafting; writing a new draft, say, every year. It has been said that your vision is one of the few things in your company that should always stay the same. This isn’t true. Visions evolve and clarify over time. To envision is a verb, and it is a human activity, something we are all capable of. Your vision is motivating insofar as you, and the rest of the team, can envision it.

Your S.I. will save your answer, 
stored in your company’s digital brain as a dated and numbered draft.


2. Mission

The mission is to achieve the vision. Every team in your company may have its own mission. There may be more than one mission — missions. Missions are helpful ways of thinking about long term trajectories that are too big to be turned into strategic plans or quarterly objectives. Don’t be intimidated or burdened by these in any way. They are meant to be motivating grand challenges.

Just as before, your S.I. will encourage you to write a first draft, and focus on the substance — don’t worry about the style.

What do we need to accomplish to realize the vision? 
Over the next few years, what are the Technologies Team’s main ambitions? 
To dominate this industry, what would our metrics have to look like? 
If we achieved our ten year plan in year one, what would we do in year two? 
What is our ten year plan — in broad strokes?

Your S.I. will save your response, make it available to the company, and check in .


3. Thesis

On what basis? On what basis of understanding have we grounded our vision and mission? Where are we? Where are we going? A proper thesis answers these questions economically, technologically, philosophically.

Every company exists in the context of a market, which exists in the context of the wider world. So everyone at the company should be clear about the map. “This is where we are. This is where we’re going. And this is why this map is a true map. Trust this map.”

“Trust this map.” That’s the key. The thesis is an intellectual justification for the validity of understanding and approach. The leader is explaining how the map was drawn. Why he believes in it. Why you should too.

The leader is not just talking about the map. The leader is talking about the territory. What is treacherous about it. What is important about it. Why it is important to navigate this territory, to have this adventure, to seek this discovery — and not some other one.

Anyways, I’m getting carried away. The point is that your S.I. will ask you to write a first draft of your thesis. Your S.I. will give you some helpful prompts.

A thesis benefits from more drafts and more time than a vision and a mission. As it is an intellectual exercise, your S.I. will come back more frequently with new questions, to ask you for more drafts.

If you prioritize this, your S.I. will block time for you to focus on this.

All of these drafts are saved and made available to the company. The value of taking a drafting approach is that there is no inordinate pressure on the leader to get it right the first time. These are complicated subjects, and the point is not distillation. The point is thinking.

Question, think, write, operate, observe; 
question, think, write, operate, observe; 
question, think, write, operate observe…

That’s the pattern that your S.I. can keep you on, almost like a coach and a writing partner. Your team benefits from seeing the evolution of your thought. And for being on the journey with you.

That’s what your digital brain really wants. It wants you to save as much thinking as possible on as many subjects as possible.

Over time, this evolution is far more compelling and insightful than an over-simplified and distilled tortured exercise in checking a box called “thesis”. A thesis ought not to be a fossil; a rigid relic of a forgotten past.


4. Story

A short story about the company with a beginning, middle and end that takes you from the beginning to where you are now. Every company needs a story about itself.

For example,

Draft: 1
Wednesday, 13 September 2017
Story
Invisible started two years ago as a premium executive assistant service. After an explosive start, the model collapsed six months later. But the team spent the next year doggedly obsessed over solving the same problems. A new model eventually emerged — and Invisible now builds and runs processes for individuals and teams. We’re better, faster and cheaper than anyone else, and aggressively innovating both operationally and technologically to build a synthetic intelligence capable of organizing every aspect of life and business.

I could have written a longer draft. I could have written something shorter, too. Next time, I’ll take a different path through the woods. But now I have this draft. And this draft approximates the truth.


5. History

Think of these as quarterly reports.

Histories are longer, factual efforts. You’re writing a detailed account of what happened, when. Why are you doing this? You’re doing this to think clearly. Because if you can’t get the past straight, how are you going to get the future right?

These are especially valuable for Board Meetings, because Board Members need a granular understanding of what happened, but they weren’t there. So this gives them a very clear sense for how dynamics evolved, what big events happened, and which decisions were made.

Histories naturally encourage you not just write what happened, but reflect on what happened. This critical exercise helps you understand why things played out the way they did, and imagine scenarios that could have played out if any of the variables were changed.

Like the other Processes in this Capability, your S.I. can prompt you to write, save your responses, categorize your responses, and share your responses.

6. Advanced

Collect feedback from your team? Request edits to your team’s mission? Invite everyone in the company to do these exercises? Want your S.I. to use the events in your histories to maintain a company timeline? Want to automatically send board members your latest update? What to post every draft to your company blog?

There’s no limit to the range of possibilities you can express with Invisible. We evolve the universal from the custom. Tell us exactly what you want.


“Create the narrative. Develop the narrative. The company is the narrative. Invest in the narrative!” These aren’t original insights. Everyone knows this. So why don’t they do it?

Yes, it takes time. But that’s not the reason. The reason is that you are too busy, and too distracted. But now you have a synthetic intelligence managing every aspect of your life and business. You’re focused, you’ve got time set aside for these things. And you don’t need to think about things like “where does this go?” or “who should I share it with?” or “what am I forgetting?”

Insofar as leadership is a process, you will be taken care of. We’ll do the work. Just respond to the prompts, keep drafting, keep thinking, keep discussing with your team. That’s up to you. That’s the real work; your work.