Strategy Without Story Is Not Strategy

As part of writing up our 21 years in business, there’s been more than a few humdingers. Here’s a perennial.

John Caswell
The A-Z Of Group Partners
2 min readDec 14, 2022


What is it you do again?

No matter how good the strategy, operation, product or solution, if the story you tell sucks, you’re nowhere.

Getting to a story that doesn’t suck is the toughest job for leadership. And most businesses don’t have the capability, making what’s already hard impossible.

It’s the devil of a challenge. Ten things:

1. Your market context shifts all the time
2. Your audience is complex and wants different things
3. Your business is complex and continuously evolving
4. Your business does multiple things, but you know it needs to stand for one
5. You always worry that your competitors are doing it better than you
6. Your audience has little or no attention span
7. Your business finds it hard to be distinctive
8. If you are too distinctive, your audience senses the risk
9. You find it hard to engage the whole enterprise
10. Getting the enterprise to understand they’re all accountable is hard

Educating a market is eye-wateringly expensive. Cracking the code isn’t simple. Ten Things:

1. A clear definition of ‘story’ — it goes far beyond what you think a story means
2. Acceptance by the leadership team that it’s this important
3. Full investment in the initiative — beyond just the money
4. Genuine insight into what the audience cares about
5. A complete, viable and coherent business strategy
6. A well-articulated definition of the solution in the context of the vision, operation, intention — mission and plan
7. Access to creative thinking — not just creative in the media sense
8. Making getting the story out a full-time role
9. The creation of a position that can win
10. A mindset and appetite for perpetual refinement and evolution

The most challenging thing business leaders have to do is position the business to win.

Not an exhaustive list, but you get the idea.



John Caswell
The A-Z Of Group Partners

I'm John Caswell - The founder and CEO of Group Partners. We Help Clients Make Strategies That Work. I’m The Head Of Crayons.