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Vision through storytelling
Written by John Hernandez03/28/2022

How to Communicate Your Vision Through Storytelling

At Profit Frog, we've dissected the importance of Dynamic Planning and how we can use it to build a leaner, better company. If there's one thing business leaders learn quickly, it's that nothing can get done without a powerful team.

Your team needs to believe in what you want to accomplish. If they don't take ownership, you're the only one advancing the mission. The best way to build a team that reaches goals is by communicating your vision to inspire them to action.

"Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others." - Jonathan Swift

Storytelling is an effective way to share your vision.

It helps articulate what you want to communicate and connects with your audience emotionally. Emotions are stronger than logic, and if you can combine both of them, you're more likely to build a team that believes in the company vision.

This article will focus on three things to develop your vision with stories.

1. Developing a Vision

Before you tell a story, you need a great vision. Many visions are vague or impossible to reach. It should be something that people can believe in. We'll dissect what makes a great vision.

2. Writing Your Team Into the Story

Stories are powerful forces to action. We can write our team members into the story to be empowered and help drive your business' mission.

3. Using Stories to Inspire

How do you articulate your vision through a creative story? A parable or true story can help cement your vision into memory and spark inspiration. It helps your team members reflect and connect emotionally with the vision. We'll learn how we can identify and communicate a story.

What Makes a Good Vision?

Peter Drucker once stated, "The vision must be tied to what the firm values, and the leader must make this connection in a way that the organization can understand, grasp, and support."

Vision shows where you want to be. It's a destination, and only by knowing that destination will you develop the steps needed to get there.

Drucker makes an important observation. Vision is connected to what your business values. If you value a great product, treating people well, and changing an industry, your vision reflects it. On the other hand, if your business is hurting and has an unhealthy team, your vision will suffer.

Before developing a vision, write down the values you want for your small business. These should be part of your company's DNA and should support the vision.

Then write down your vision. Answer the following questions to help develop the right one for you:

  • What is my ideal outcome for the business?
  • How do I want to change the industry?
  • What makes us different?
  • How will we treat people (customers, employees, partners)?

Visions should be as specific as possible and avoid general statements.

For example, Tesla's vision from 2011 is, "[To] create the most compelling car company of the 21st century by driving the world’s transition to electric vehicles".

Reading this today, we see how Tesla has already made a difference in the electric and sustainability industry and how they continue to pursue the vision today.

Communicating Your Vision Through Stories

It's one thing to state your vision, but how do you get people to believe in it?

There's no doubt it takes a level of charisma and talent from a leader. But even if you aren't good at communicating, you can utilize stories to do the heavy lifting for you.

Why are stories effective?

It draws people into reflection and helps inspire them. Everybody loves a good underdog story because they see themselves in it. If a scrappy sports team faces world champions, their fans will do anything to succeed. They are all-in on the story.

The issue with storytelling is that we like to make it about ourselves. For example, a business wanting to sell cleaning services will often promote how great they are and how they save the day with clean facilities. But when people read or listen to it, there is a disconnect.

They don't care how good you are; they care about how you will fix their problem. They filter your communication through their lenses-- their story.

So how can we tell a story and write our team members into it?

We can develop a story that communicates our vision by adopting the framework by Donald Miller. His book, Building a StoryBrand, teaches us how to build a compelling story.

For purposes of understanding Miller's model, we will build a story from the perspective of a business selling services.

The Framework:

1. A Character

There is a hero to the story. Businesses naturally think it's them, but it's not what customers see. They are the hero of their own story. Heroes have a goal, and they want to succeed.

2. With a Problem

They have faced an obstacle in their way. They need a way to overcome it.

3. Meets a Guide

They meet someone (the business) who has experienced the problem and knows how to overcome it.

4. That Gives Them a Plan

The business shows them how their problem can be solved.

5. That Calls Them to Action

It's up to the character to do something about it.

6. That Results in Success or Failure

The hero can succeed after overcoming the problem.

If you look at your favorite movies and stories, they often fall under this framework.

In Lion King, Simba's father is murdered by Scar, and he goes into exile. He later loves his new life. Then one day, he learns that his family and many others are suffering at the hands of Scar (problem).

So he meets with the monkey Rafiki, and he speaks with his spirit-father in an encounter, all guides to help him succeed. Finally, he has his "map" and takes action. At the movie's end, he conquers the villain and reigns over a happy kingdom.

As you communicate your vision, you can adopt this framework:

1. A Character

A team member does their job well and enjoys working for the business.

2. With a Problem

Many prospects in the community don't know about the brand and deal with a problem you solve every day.

3. Meets a Guide

The business leader knows how to grow the business through dynamic planning and an effective strategy.

4. That Gives Them a Plan

The team member has a plan to grow the business and reach more customers, benefiting the community and their job.

5. That Calls Them to Action

The team member knows what needs to be done and is ready to act.

6. That Results in Success or Failure

The company grows, and more customers benefit. The team member enjoys new privileges because of a more profitable and healthier company.

The more specific your story is, the better you can craft your vision.

Now that we've developed a way to frame our communication, how can we use a personal story to illustrate a point?

Using Creative Stories

The StoryBrand story will help write your team members into the vision. It affects the way you communicate with them. But if you're presenting the vision for the first time, there is nothing more effective than a true story or creative analogy.

The best way will always be a relevant true story. Is there a testimonial or customer story that would describe your ideal goals for the vision?

Perhaps you want to be a more empathetic company so you can build loyal customers for years. There may be a story of a customer that had a family crisis, and an employee representing the brand went above and beyond to make a small difference. This sets the stage for your vision.

You can also use other brands, history, and sources to paint a picture.

For example, let's say you want to improve your product because it breaks or has issues after a couple of years. The sales price is high, and you want it to last a long time.

You can tell the story about how your father bought a classic car older than he was, the work he put in, and how much he enjoyed it; he would always talk about the quality and how great of a build it was.

Creative and true stories should help inspire your team. They also have a seed at its core that serves as the foundation of your vision.

Recap: Putting it All Together

Now that you know the elements of communicating your vision through a story, how does it come together?

1. Define your vision. Make sure you can believe in it and that it resonates with your team. Ensure that it's achievable and specific.

2. Build your team into the story. How is it relevant to your employee? How can you make them the hero?

3. Inspire with a creative story. Paint the picture. Put your vision into perspective and tie it into a deeper meaning.

As you develop your vision and story, you'll create a more effective way to communicate. If your team passionately believes in your company vision, you'll accomplish more than imagined.