We have just been through the traditional round of Strategic Planning and Tactical Implementation projects. These mark the first quarter of the calendar year. Unfortunately, most times, nothing changes. Our vision of the future is NOT grounded in practical or possible, or, is so connected to the NOW that planning is based on fixing rather than evolution to a higher plane. The PPPPP(p) of People, Product, Price, Promotion, Place, to which we add process, which defines that area of the marketplace to which we seek to evolve.
We think we are pretty much "On IT", when it comes to this process. A template for planning relevant projects and a template for guaranteeing (if you implement it with discipline) a positive and sustainable outcome. Once you have the "project change list" prioritise in two ways - IMPACT (6-12 months) on the business and long-term IMPORTANCE (2-5 years). In our view, the most critical success factor in the outcome of planning is implementation and measurement!
However, there is a way to "clear the decks" and improve the outcome of the planning process. We think a ZERO based state mind set is needed. I came to this realisation in a recent book by Jonny Steinberg - A MAN OF GOOD HOPE ISBN: 978-1-86842-321-7 - an eBook on Amazon.
This story is about Asad Abdullah. Betrayed by everyone in the chaos of the civil war in Mogadishu his relationship to others became sceptical and tactical - living hand to mouth - day to day. To escape his reality, he walked the length of Africa to Cape Town - South Africa, the land of legendary milk and honey, with streets paved with gold ~ to find a land more violent than he had ever imagined. A frightful set of circumstances that could easily be the catalyst for a destroyed life. But, even though the circumstances that are believed to define humanity are stripped away, and all things that are necessary for happiness and self fulfilment are no more, there is still hope. Starting from a ZERO sum, dreams and desires andthe drive to leave something of a legacy - some permanent mark of our existence.
What that story Highlighted was;
game-ify and/or story-ify
In our FREE eBook, "herding cats" named for the difficulty of getting everyone moving in the same direction, we play with the idea that there are2 ways to get your folk to understand their context more fully. By using different ways to represent reality.
It is a standard attribute of any story, that they fall into two categories, a “window” and/or a “mirror” story.
A window story would present to the "consumer" a glowing, comforting, and vision filled view as they look through the window. Not only what they see is important also what they feel as they stand outside the window. An example might be, that you are threatened by the surrounding dark forest. Bad weather is closing in, you approach the window looking inside you see the warm soft glow of the lights in the cabin reflecting off highly polished floors. A deep armchair of rest. A mother figure cooking a meal ~ all the things that are given over to your senses. You can see yourself being saved from the threats and attaining the things you need. (GAIN)
The mirror story, will hold up to you the reflection of your situation, so that you can see your own details more clearly, and how they can be “fixed!” (PAIN) Start with the idea of the window/mirror, what are you trying to achieve? Do you want the "consumer" to self-select by seeing themselves and their situation in the story, then a (PAIN) mirror approach is warranted. If you are trying to show them a brighter future, a (GAIN) story, then a window structure is the one to use. Remember to make use of the 5 senses as you structure your story so that they start to feel the benefit of the promise of joining those on the other side of the window.
Writing a “mirror” or a “window” story ~ should apply to any type of "communication" you do; writing a paragraph, a proposal, a letter, an e-mail, giving a presentation ~ ANY communication suggesting change. Structure is one thing as it gives you a parameter in which to operate, but the steps within the structure ~ the process is just as important as it moves the reader to action. In Education Based Marketing, sometimes called content marketing there is a structure which we find optimal.
We found the following resources relevant to understanding how we could use a ZERO based Planning (ZBP) approach.
How to Use Storytelling as a Leadership Tool
This short overview of the process found in the Forbes publication, refers to Paul Smiths book, and helps with understanding the approach.
This great resource for building a story by Paul Smith ~ Lead with a Story, Storytelling has come of age in the business world. Today, many of the most successful companies use storytelling as a leadership tool. At Nike, all senior executives are designated corporate storytellers (little bit weary of that naming convention!) 3M banned bullet points years ago and replaced them with a process of writing "strategic narratives." Some forward-thinking business schools have even added storytelling courses to their management curriculum. The reason for this is simple: Stories have the ability to engage an audience the way logic and bullet points alone never could.
call to Lights, action, Camera
First thing, is to see the benefit of describing your ZERO BASES PLANNING scenario in a story format using the Mirror/Window paradigm. Follow the short Driver, Movement, Measurement structure to build your story and then, practice and certify its correct use by all customer facing personnel. You'll find you will need more than one story. Then, structure questions to understand what outcome your "consumer" would react to so you can deliver the relevant story. Ban the 20 slide PowerPoint "presentation" that describes how clever your organisation is. Rather leave the room for "them," your information consumer to be "asking searching questions" that will bring them to their own realisation of what is necessary. Get out of the way of the CLOSE!