It is vital you communicate the why of your strategy, otherwise your people will not engage in your strategy or message. There are two Whys of strategy: The “Sense of purpose?”; and the “Why change?”.
Communicate the why of strategy purpose
The first “Why” is about what is important to people. Rather than a mission statement, if people have a sense of purpose and understand why something is important they will act upon it. If an organisation has a well-defined sense of itself, then this can and will drive the direction it takes. Think of this as ideology: Its core values and sense of purpose.
Creating a reason for being, beyond the generation of money, that the organisation aspires to, provides a rallying call to the organisation. Take three well-known examples:
• “To solve unsolved problems innovatively”, 3M
• “To give ordinary people the chance to buy the same things as rich people”, Wal-Mart
• “To make people happy”, Walt Disney
In each case, as an outsider you can understand what these are about. You appreciate what it means. Just think how much more of a driver for action these are on the inside. In each company you can use these phrases to ask, “Will this decision…make people happy, solve unsolved problems… etc”. It acts as a steadying and motivating force, for individuals and groups.
So by establishing and communicating why the company exists you communicate the higher purpose.
Communicate the why of strategy change
The second “why” is often about change. What happens if we stay as we are? What will the forces of markets, technology, economy, and competition do to us. Many people will have emotional investment in the organisation as it is. They need to understand why they need to invest emotion in the company of the future.
I am not an advocate of the “Boil the ocean”, “Create a burning platform” school of change. But I do believe that people appreciate the facts; just as the management team assessed the facts when the strategy was devised.
People are able to judge for themselves the serious of a situation, the effects and likely consequences. People are intelligent, and informed intelligent people make good decisions. Whether than involves staying with the company through the change or moving on is a question for them.
However if the reason for the change is hidden or brushed over in the rush to execute, what are they likely to think?