A CEO client of mine asked me to look at his company’s new strategy, and he sent over a 44-page PowerPoint presentation. When I got to slide six, I called him and confessed, “I don’t know what you want them to think, feel, or do differently.”
When it comes to bringing your strategy to life, words alone won’t do it, especially when you use too many words. Employees will not understand where to focus their attention because you have failed to focus their attention.
A process that I use frequently and call Strategy Visualization is about creating a single image that captures a process, a strategy, or almost anything else that needs to be clarified, communicated to vastly different audiences, or perhaps in multiple languages.
When we create such an image for clients, there are usually two to three core components; think of these as main idea drivers. Each component has no more than two to three credibility elements; these are believable validations of that idea or particular direction. Every element is represented by a visual image. At the core of this visual, you focus on the “why” (you might call this the WOW). What’s the desired outcome we're after?
Armed with this sort of image, client organizations discover that their strategy goes from convoluted to clear. It’s not just that we made a pretty picture. The very act of reducing your strategy to a single visual image forces you and your team to focus your employees’ attention. It makes you answer the question, “What are we really trying to say here?”
To convey a complex idea to a broad base of stakeholders, make a picture.
Relationships go bad when there are misaligned expectations; visual images work extremely well to help align future expectations. They communicate: hereis where we are going and this is what we need you to do to help us get there.
Relationships are built on great conversations. A clear and compelling image spurs productive conversations and the narrative reinforces relationships.
In contrast, imagine 25 employees stumbling out of a strategy session based on a deck jam-packed with 5,000 words. No one knows what to do, when, or with whom. Employees feel uneasy, and possibly even threatened. In some cases, they immediately start competing to protect their jobs and their domains.
Once you have a compelling image, share it widely. One client printed 150 wall-sized posters for offices around the country and even wrapped the image on the outside of delivery trucks. Another client opens every meeting, every leadership call, every all-hands staff meeting with their strategy visual.
In doing so, you are helping employees not just act differently, but also communicate differently. They will be better able to not only discuss your strategy with peers but also to accurately convey your message to partners and clients.
This post was originally published on LinkedIn Pulse.
David Nour is a strategic relationship keynote speaker, consultant, and advisor that helps companies (such as Hilton, ThyssenKrupp, Disney, KPMG and over 100 other marquee organizations) drive profitable growth through unique returns on their strategic relationships. Nour has pioneered the phenomenon that relationships are the greatest off balance sheet asset any organizations possess, large and small, public and private. He is also the author of ten books translated into eight languages, including his new book, Co-Create: How Your Business Will Profit from Innovative and Strategic Collaboration (St. Martin’s Press, May 9, 2017).