People need the gist: the context, the big picture, the why, before the details become important or meaningful. Read this piece of text from Drew Westen's book 'The Political Brain'.(1)
Yes. Its hard to read. It doesn't make much sense and its entirely forgettable. But what happens if I tell you the text refers to doing your laundry? Suddenly it makes sense. Its a good example of what happens when we rush to the details, that tactics and the 'what' without taking the time to explain the 'why'.
And yet, we often find ourselves going straight to the details and skipping over the context. This particularly applies to strategy - we are eager to tell people what we want them to do. And this is one of the reasons why a recent survey of 460 companies found that 80% of people don't know or understand their organisation's strategy.(2)
We've worked with nearly half of the ASX20 companies to turn their strategy into a strategic story and the results have been phenomenal. One of the reasons these stories work is that they explain why the strategy is being pursued. We recently had a call from one of our clients from a national organisation saying he'd just visited one of their remote sites in NSW and the staff there were able to give a pretty good overview of the company's strategy.
For more information, read our recent article 'How to make your strategy stick with a strategic story'. And remember, people need to understand the gist before they can make sense of the details.
1. Drew Westen (2008). The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation, page 143.
2. Vanson Bourne (2011). The link between strategic alignment and staff productivity: A survey of decision-makers in enterprise organisations. http://www.successfactors.co.uk/resources/resource-item/the-link-between-strategic-alignment-and-staff-productivity/