Giving literal voice to the essential story

Giving literal voice to the essential story

When clients go through Phrase Strategy’s Essential Story Process and receive their Corporate Phrasebooks, the journey has just begun. 

When we are hired, it’s because an organization is stuck in some way. The Essential Story Process kick-starts change and evolution. I then often work with clients in ongoing engagements to ensure an Essential Story becomes ingrained throughout the organization.

Where the Journey Begins

After an Essential Story has been discovered and articulated, a process of change begins. Clients with ongoing engagements with us recognize that and the value of having someone onside who is specifically responsible for bringing the voice of the story to every aspect of the organization. There is nearly endless opportunity to ensure the story is embodied throughout an organization, corporation, or business.

An ongoing engagement can look like working with clients on strategic plans, facilitating strategic sessions, and working with leadership teams to build strategies that emerge from those conversations and sessions. I participate in meetings, bring the perspective of the Essential Story, and uncover opportunities for how it can be applied in various concrete ways.

Operationalizing and Championing the Essential Story

Operationalizing the Essential Story means making it real in concrete ways. 

The most obvious thing is to look at how a brand is telling its story in external communications. I work with clients to come up with new and aligned ways of doing that through various media and channels – this forms the foundation of a marketing or communications strategy. Sometimes, my work includes creating examples and templates of communications products and mentoring communications professionals. I often rework the way organizations present their services and products to align with the story.

But internal communications are at least as important in the process of operationalizing an Essential Story.

For instance, I have worked with clients to update policies, procedures, and guidelines to align with their Essential Story. Simply by attending key meetings as the Brand Steward, I am able to serve as a literal voice of the Essential Story in those discussions. 

Aligning organization structure and “org charts” is another aspect of how I work with clients to ensure they are operationally capable of operationalizing and living their Essential Stories. Just as departmental org structure can determine the success and outcomes of a single workstream, so too does overall org structure determine the ability of a brand to fulfil its Essential Story.

Coaching is a key ingredient of operationalizing an Essential Story. Because the Essential Story Process kickstarts a new way of thinking, I am often retained to coach leadership teams to shift their thinking.

It’s a thrill to work with clients over time because I get to see the transformation they experience when they use and integrate the language of the Essential Story in everyday practices.

Among the leadership team and throughout an organization, I start hearing the language of the Essential Story used and applied. I witness people throughout the organization make it their own and discover how it can be applied to their role or within their department. I love to hear the Essential Story come up more frequently in team meetings and hearing people use the common language together in conversations.

When everyone in an organization has a common language, way of thinking, and understanding of purpose, they can focus on advancing goals and priorities. I have witnessed organizations set priorities, shift their response to criticism, and think in fresh new ways about things they are doing. The Essential Story platform provides clarity about the things that are non-negotiable, improves communication with others, and boosts confidence in communicating why they do what they do.

A Sneak Peek Into an Ongoing Engagement

Once the Essential Story has been launched, I will often spend about six months engaging in strategy sessions with various groups or departments, reviewing communications and marketing materials, coaching, and participating in team meetings. 

Once the organization is “flying on its own” as it were, I can step back into a less frequent support role. Through quarterly check-ins, I provide periodic objective reviews and discuss changes that are occurring to ensure they are managed in alignment with the Essential Story. It is also an opportunity for me to identify gaps or opportunities through the lens of the Essential Story.

Ultimately, the organization itself must be able to champion and steward its Essential Story through new ways of thinking and acting. Over time and with my guidance, that becomes more natural for them. My goal is for the client to become independent through the transfer of knowledge, habits, and thought patterns. 

This independence arises from the continuous practice of speaking, thinking, and breathing the Essential Story in day-to-day work. Over time, I’m needed less and less.

Get Unstuck and Keep on Moving

I am allergic to inertia and stasis in both my personal and professional life. I don’t like seeing others “stuck”, so the ongoing engagement with clients and their Essential Stories gives me a personal thrill of watching growth and transformation take place.

It’s selfish, I admit it, but it is gratifying to watch this momentum from the Essential Story build independence, clarity, and confidence in an organization – even knowing that if I do the job well, they one day won’t need me. 

Does your organization feel stuck or is it experiencing challenging change? Our Essential Story Process has proven to be transformative. We will help your business discover and articulate its Essential Story to achieve a renewed sense of clarity, confidence, and purpose. Please reach out for a consultation – I’m always interested in a great conversation!