Systematic HR’s post today on the art of the story and how it helps us make sense of the present made me think of a Roger Martin post in June, where he showed us that story telling is a vital skill for great strategy development. So, telling stories is great for the past, the present and the future.

Martin’s post “moving from strategic planning to story telling” is about overcoming some of the main roadblocks to good strategy development by creating happy stories instead of focusing on SWOT analyses, spreadsheets and other idea killing approaches:

Think about a strategic options as being just a happy story about the future. It doesn't have to be right and it doesn't even have to be sensible. It just has to result in your organization being in a happy place in the future. In fact, if it were absolutely right and utterly sensible, your company would probably already be doing it.

Then, Martin recommends, look at the stories, and work backward to “what would have to be true?”

When you have assembled the happy stories/options, you can then begin to deploy the most important question in strategy: what would have to be true? For each individual story, what would have to be true for it to be a terrific choice? Work backward from an attractive possibility to see what would have to be true to make this a feasible and attractive option.

The story, of course, is also necessary for making sense of the present and past for, or as Systematic HR put it:

HR is comprised of quite a few random pieces of data, from technology enabled analytics, process outcomes, talent data, HR transactional data, etc.  HR outcomes and strategies are usually aggregations of each of these areas as individual data points combine to create overall direction and outcomes – formulating the data in such a way that it can actually give us a sense of place, direction and story is more important in HR than any other function that I can think of

Couldn’t agree more.  Place is today and the past, direction is your trends, the story creates your future, which is why these two posts with different aspects of story telling make so much sense together.  How are you doing with a sense of place, direction and story?