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Your business model may not be fit for purpose. According to McKinsey [1], those companies who fixate only on profits will lose ground to organisations that create a strong identity that meets employees’ needs for affiliation, social cohesion, purpose, and meaning. Future-ready organisations accomplish this in three ways: they are clear on their purpose; they know how they create value and why they’re unique; and they create strong and distinct cultures that help attract and retain the best people.

For companies emerging from the pandemic and with it a new set of sensibilities about the world, mapping out a new course is hard enough; communicating it to shareholders and stakeholders may be even harder.

Communicating complexity can make particular use of the oldest of social skills: storytelling. Narrative reporting is a technique that has long been espoused by the likes of PwC[2] to give a broader and more meaningful understanding of a company’s business. This should then lead to better investor understanding and improved stakeholder relationships.

Such an approach may be desirable and deliverable for corporate reports, but does not offer a practical or authentic take on the day-to-day activities of a business. Contrast this with corporate Tweets, too often creating disjointed sound bites to remind the world of their presence. Where lies that bed of curated, quality narrative which provides the listener with meaningful and frequent insights into their purpose, values and culture?

There is surely an opportunity here waiting to be grasped. Just as one’s actions say more about us than our words, our selfless deeds for others provide an insight into our own intent. Companies increasingly have the opportunity to sponsor local environmental and social projects whose stories they can use to shine a light on their own values. For example, should a company sponsor a young person from a challenging background from the city in which it itself is based in order for them to be trained, given employment and receive mentorship, then that company is telling the world something about itself. These sponsorship initiatives light the touchpaper for creating new stories about the journeys of individuals and the challenges of communities.

From such stories, companies can indicate to their shareholders and stakeholders whether they are a force for good in the world which justifies their support.

© David Arscott February 2021

[1] https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/organizing-for-the-future-nine-keys-to-becoming-a-future-ready-company.

[2] https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/audit-services/corporate-reporting/assets/pdfs/narrative-reporting.pdf.