Aligning on a Narrative to Drive Direction at a Luxury Retailer

Situation

As a market leader, our client’s business had been growing dramatically for a decade until recent months when they started to experience a slowdown in same-store sales. The company’s culture was characterized by “doing,” cranking through work, without much time or emphasis on reflection or strategy. At this potential inflection point in the company’s business, the senior leaders recognized there was a lost opportunity to keep employees motivated, innovative, and coordinated, through a narrative that inspired the teams to do their best work.

While the company had many of the “obligatory” pieces defining a company these days – a mission, strategy, numerous strategic frameworks, values, etc. – employees rarely understood or remembered them. They were confused and didn’t see the bigger picture, nor did they see how these pieces were connected to their day-to-day work.

Challenge

  • Competition was intensifying, and employees were working long, hard hours without seeing the same benefits as in the past, leading to turnover
  • The CEO was eager to develop a narrative that was understandable, inspired the entire organization, and also didn’t feel “top down”
  • The narrative also needed to simplify all the existing messaging and frameworks, a challenge because different pieces resonated with different parts of the organization

Resolution

The client engaged the Trium Group in process of developing a compelling strategic narrative, both a rallying cry and a stake in the ground for what the company stood for and was headed towards:

  • Leveraging a proprietary framework, we identified and drafted missing pieces and integrated with what existing pieces resonated
  • We developed a collaborative, creative, and iterative process of first engaging the executive team to understand what was most critical for them (interviews, working sessions), then took the draft to next level leaders for their input and joint ownership
  • Quickly thereafter, the revised version was shared throughout the organization and interactive exercises developed around the “unveiling” so that employees could internalize the narrative and not have it be something that just ended up in a handbook or on a wall

The narrative – and in particular, the new vision – had far-reaching positive and powerful consequences. It has become an internal rallying cry, as well as a focus for all decision making, investment, and innovation. The inspiring vision has also been used extensively externally, effectively distinguishing our client from its competitors. At the same time, as we often find that the co-development and alignment process with the senior team – getting them bought in and feeling accountable for the story – is a large part of the value in this and similar engagements.

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