As the host of “Leadership Powered by Common Sense,” I’ve had the privilege of engaging with some of the most innovative minds in the business world. In a recent episode, I sat down with Guillaume Wiatr (Viat), the mastermind behind the “Strategic Narrative” model, to explore the profound impact of storytelling and strategic thinking in business. Let me take you through the enlightening journey of our conversation, where we uncovered the essence of strategic narrative and its pivotal role in shaping successful leaders and organizations.

The Genesis of Strategic Narrative

Guillaume, with his 30 years of consulting experience, has crafted a model that is revolutionizing the way B2B and expert firms approach their business strategies. The “Strategic Narrative” is not just about telling a story; it’s about crafting a narrative that propels a business forward. During our discussion, Guillaume delineated the subtle yet significant difference between a story and a narrative. A story, he explained, is often a one-way communication, while a narrative involves a dynamic two-way exchange, fostering co-creation and engagement.

The Sailing Boat Metaphor and the Holistic Business View

To illustrate the concept of strategic narrative, Guillaume shared a compelling diagram, likening a business to a sailing boat. This metaphor beautifully encapsulates the need for a clear vision and productive habits. Just as a sailor must be aware of the interconnectedness of the boat’s parts and the surrounding environment, a business leader must recognize the interplay between various business elements. It’s about steering the ship with a holistic view, ensuring that every action aligns with the ultimate destination.

The Challenge of Strategic Thinking

One of the common hurdles I’ve observed, and which we discussed, is the difficulty entrepreneurs and corporate professionals face in adopting a strategic mindset. It’s a transition from being an individual contributor to embracing a broader perspective. Guillaume’s analogy of flying a small plane versus being on the ground underscores the importance of seeing the big picture from a higher altitude, rather than focusing solely on the immediate path ahead.

Big Picture Thinking: A Learned Behavior?

A fascinating aspect of our conversation revolved around whether the ability to think big picture is innate or can be cultivated. Guillaume posited that while certain personalities might naturally gravitate towards big-picture thinking, it is indeed a skill that can be developed. This is a hopeful message for all professionals striving to enhance their strategic acumen.

Beginning with the End in Mind

We delved into the powerful concept of starting with the end in mind, emphasizing the significance of forecasting the future in both personal and business planning. Guillaume shared an exercise where individuals envision their future selves, detailing the events that led to their success and fulfillment. This forward-thinking approach is crucial for aligning personal values with business objectives and considering the societal impact of our actions.

Detachment and Emotional Investment

Another key topic we explored was the idea of detachment. Experts often have a deep emotional and personal investment in their work, which can cloud their strategic vision. Recognizing and accounting for these emotional factors is essential when considering the bigger picture and making decisions that will shape the future of a business.

Applying Strategic Narrative Across Fields

As our conversation drew to a close, I thanked Guillaume for his invaluable insights into the strategic narrative. We discussed how this concept transcends industries and can be applied to various fields. Guillaume generously offered ways for listeners to connect with him for further discussions and resources related to his model.

Final Thoughts

The power of strategic narrative lies in its ability to integrate storytelling with strategic thinking, ultimately guiding leaders and businesses towards a successful and fulfilling future. It’s about painting a picture that not only captures the imagination but also directs every action towards a common goal. As we wrapped up our enlightening discussion, it was clear that the strategic narrative is more than a model—it’s a mindset that can transform the way we lead and do business.

For those eager to learn more about the strategic narrative and how it can revolutionize your approach to leadership and business management, I encourage you to reach out to Guillaume and dive deeper into this transformative concept.

Guillaume Wiatr is the creator of Strategic Narrative®, the business strategy consulting and coaching methodology for entrepreneurial leaders of professional services firms.
Through his company, MetaHelm, he steers experts, CEOs, and leadership teams to build a
successful business they also love by growing Narrative Power, the leadership ability to defy the
normal when the normal is wrong.

A former big-firm strategist, Guillaume has also founded four B2B ventures. His expertise is sought by clients ranging from solopreneurs to global organizations like Microsoft, Spencer Stuart, AIG, Symrise, and the Gates Foundation.

Guillaume loves teaching and mentoring entrepreneurs at startup incubators and the University of Washington’s Master of Science in Entrepreneurship, ranked #3 in the US.

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