Your company may be really great at telling stories, but do you qualify as a storydoer?
A few weeks ago, I came across this idea of companies who are more than just storytellers. They’re also storydoers. Tyler Montague, the source of this idea, outlined six characteristics of a storydoing company:
- They have a story
- The story is about a larger ambition to make the world or people’s lives better
- The story is understood and cared about by senior leadership outside of marketing
- That story is being used to drive tangible action throughout the company: product development, HR policies, compensation, etc.
- These actions add back up to a cohesive whole
- Customers and partners are motivated to engage with the story and are actively using it to advance their own stories
Tyler and his partners went looking for hard statistical evidence to back up their contention that great companies are storydoers. It looks like they’re on their way to confirming numbers that support the theory. The question I want you to consider is why would you need numbers to justify anything on Tyler’s list?
All six items are strategies that could benefit any company. And yet Tyler went after hard data so he could convince people that the idea of storydoing led to business results worth pursuing.
There’s no question we have more data than ever before, and some of it is incredibly useful. So what comes next may sound sacrilegious to data devotees. We don’t always need reams of data to determine if something is good for business.
Tyler’s storydoing example is just one of many sound business strategies that gets more attention if there’s data to support it. But while we’re busy combing through the data, what are we missing? Have we missed an opportunity to make our businesses better because we needed numbers to make us feel comfortable?
I’m not recommending that we go back to ignoring data or only trusting our gut. I do recommend not letting a lack of data blind us to smart business strategy. Sometimes when you’re an entrepreneur it’s the only option available. You often don’t have enough data so say that one decisions clearly tops another.
I suspect that our love affair with data is tied to something that keeps most entrepreneurs and even seasoned business owners awake at night: the fear of failure. Data can make us better informed about some decisions, but it can also create an illusion that we’re making a decision without risk. Data may tell us more, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we’ve got the meaning right.
So the next time you see a strategy like Tyler’s to be a storydoing company, put it in context. If there’s numbers, pull up a spreadsheet and have a party. But if there’s not, use the skills and talent that got you into business in the first place and ask a simple question: does it have the potential to make my business better tomorrow than it is today?