IABC Survey shows strategic narratives linked to effective change

Posted by  Shawn Callahan —October 21, 2013
Filed in News, Strategy

The International Association of Business Communications (IABC) recently published the findings from its internal communication (iC) survey for 2013. It was interesting to see it had an entire section dedicated to strategic narratives. Here are some of the results.

IABC survey image

The survey sampled 215 Internal Communication professionals across Australia.

28% of the companies have a strategic narrative in place.

For those companies that have a strategic narrative in place 66% of IC professional reported that change is managed well in those organisations. When the company lacked a strategic story the ICs only rated their companies doing well on change 38% of the time.

It was also interesting to see that 90% of companies purposely employed face-to-face briefings as part of their communication strategies yet only 65% felt is was done well.

Of course you should take these surveys with a grain of salt and remember that correlation doesn’t mean causation. What’s most interesting to me is that the survey dedicated so much space just to strategic narratives.

Benefits of a strategic narrative

More and more companies are coming to understand that a strategic narrative provides a number of benefits:

  • it gets the executives on the same page around the strategy. Without a story strategies rely on ambiguous statements like “valued added differentiation”. When you use this type of amorphous language executives can appear to be saying the same thing when they actually mean different things. Stories, on the other hand, use concrete language which is much harder to misunderstand.
  • a strategic story explains why a set of strategic choices were made and people are more likely to accept a new direction, even if they don’t agree with it entirely, if it’s explained and seems fair.
  • a strategic story can be told without notes or PowerPoint slides in your own words and supported by your own experiences. People want authentic communication from their leaders and a basic story structure helps.
  • lots of people can get involved in creating the story thus spreading the ownership of the strategy across the company. Strategic stories can be a force for better employee engagement when done well.

About  Shawn Callahan

Shawn is one of the world's leading business storytelling consultants. He helps executive teams find and tell the story of their strategy. When he is not working on strategy communication, Shawn is helping leaders find and tell business stories to engage, to influence and to inspire. Shawn works with Global 1000 companies including Shell, IBM, SAP, Bayer, Microsoft & Danone. Connect with Shawn on:

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