The power of a (new) story

Back when I took the Prof G Strategy Sprint with Section4, one of the things that stayed with me was just how powerful a great story is in shaping entire companies.

I was reminded the other day, when I had a meeting with a seasoned communications professional, where we talked about what great people with a background in communications have to offer a startup board of directors.

The answer is: More than you would think.

Because aside from offering advice and help out on the PR and communication strategy and associated activities, what they can also help do is reimagine the entire mission of the company.

Now, why would you ever want to do that, you may ask?

Simple, really.

When you start out you may have a rather narrow mission in mind. You’re pretty set on the problem, you’re looking to solve, and who you’re solving it for. If you’re good (and lucky) you will have an excellent North Star guiding the first part of your startup journey.

But what happens when you have got that first product in market, and you have started seeing some traction? Do you focus on doubling down and getting even better at delivering your value proposition to that particular client segment, or do you start looking for ways to expand your footprint into new segments?

If you decide on the latter, it will most often take reimagining the vision. If fx you’re a MedTech company looking to serve a particular niche of hospital clinics, you may wonder if you could go direct to consumer – or direct to patient as it would be in this case.

That would entail a new storytelling. A broader vision and mission that can still be tied down to the original purpose behind the company so as not to alienate anyone on the team in process.

Done right this re-crafting of mission or purpose, if you will, could unlock the journey towards new value propositions, new products, new revenues – and new highs for the startup.

And having someone close to the company – eg on the board or an advisory board – with deep experience within communication could be the ideal catalyst for that sort of transformation.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Do the Prof G Strategy Sprint

Last night at 1.40 AM I wrapped up my participation in the Prof G Strategy Sprint with Professor Scott Galloway, NYU Stern School of Business. The course ended – fittingly – with a session on Life Strategy by the man himself that is some of the most insightful I have heard in a while.

The sprint I participated in was the 2nd cohort by Section4, the company founded by Scott which is the home of his activities within the field of bringing higher education to more people at a fraction of the US cost. And judged from participating, I have no doubt that they are onto something:

The sprint is based on short modules each accompanied by a case study and an opportunity to reflect based on a number of questions that you can then answer and debate in the 600 people strong Slack community that comes with participating.

For me that part was one of the real wow!-moments as the discussion really had an intense level and so many contributions that it is going to take weeks to go through and properly digest it all. It is a great example of how real learning happens; sharing and discussing things with your peers, and based on this experience there is no reason to believe it can’t happen in a much more nimble and cheaper online setting that at some fancy, costly campus.

Everything we did was based around learning the T-Algorithm, a framework Prof G has developed to analyze what sets trillion dollar companies apart. The method is pretty straight forward but does require you to do some competitive analysis the good old fashioned way. But once you have done that the model – and the Excel format you get it in – really kicks in on stereoids.

I am going to use the model going further. Not only to analyze potential opportunities for new projects or ideas, we look at at inQvation but also for building out strategy and recommendations for the projects, we’re already running. Why? Because it helps dealing with a lot of the moving parts of trying to build and succeed with something, and it puts them into context, prioritizes them and basically help you keep a cool, focused head.

The course ended with a class where Scott highlighted some student projects. While mine was not among them – and that’s perfectly fine – I did thoroughly enjoy being back to school again and actually doing and handing in a project for the first time in 20 years.

Awesome, AWESOME experience that I highly recommend if you’re interested in strategy and marketing and building stuff that has real value.

Photo: Screenshot