One of the great things about corporate consulting is that
you get to work with some very smart people – in our case people smart enough
to realize the power of using the five-element story model in corporate
strategy. David Berry, Director of Coaching and Leadership Development at
TaylorMade-adidas Golf, is that smart and then some.
Every year TaylorMade,
which makes the finest performance golf equipment in the world, has its leaders
prepare an individual Leadership Plan that reflects back on their past year and
express how they plan to carry what they learned forward into the next. It has
been a very successful process. But TaylorMade is by nature innovative so David
called FirstVoice and asked if we could come up with a program to make those
leadership plans more Meaningful, Relevant, Challenging
The minute we saw the criteria we knew this was a match made
in heaven. Why? David’s criteria directly relate to the first four elements in
our story model!
MEANINGFUL: This directly relates to a story’s Passion. What
makes a fact meaningful? First you have to capture our attention. Story does
that. Cold facts do very little. Effective leaders use facts wrapped in emotions
– our definition of story – to get people fired up and passionately
engaged. The best idea in the world,
without passionate commitment, will fizzle out and have no meaningful result.
RELEVANT: Relevant to whom? It is all a matter of point of
view and POV relates to the story element Hero. Leaders are corporate heroes
because they know where their work fits into the larger whole of corporate
strategy. They understand the corporate “lay of the land.” They move an idea
towards fruition by helping other leaders see how it connects to their areas of
responsibility and so that they become equally committed to seeing it happen.
goes with Antagonist. There are always obstacles to be overcome. That is the
nature of business. Defining those obstacles in a way that makes them clearly
opportunities is one of the key advantages of the story model. That little hit
of adrenaline that a well told story releases can make all the difference. What
might seem drudgery suddenly becomes exciting and we accept the challenge.
ACTIONABLE: This is Awareness. If
we know what to do next, we can do it. As we say in The Elements of
Persuasion awareness is a bit like lightning. It is a flash of illumination. It should be
quick, clean and just a little startling. Awareness is like a great punch line,
it automatically produces an action. A punch line makes us laugh, in leadership
stories awareness makes us take action and get right to work.
TRANSFORMATION, our fifth element, is the natural result of
bringing the first four elements into alignment. Managing change is what
TaylorMade-adidas’s leadership plans are all about.
Though the idea of storytelling in business is broadly
catching on the specific application of the five-element story model is still
very cutting edge. It offers a decisive competitive advantage. It is no
coincidence that TaylorMade-adidas, at the absolute cutting edge of the highly
competitive world of performance golf, would be smart enough to understand