Framing The Right Story


Every organization has a story that answers why they exist and where they want to go. That story is what helps them solve market problems and capitalize on new business opportunities. The question a business leader needs to ask is, whether their organization is building around the right story focus.

It’s easy to get busy trying to solve for a certain set of problems. It maybe that you’re attempting to solve the wrong problems, or the right problems in the wrong order. The same can be said for new business opportunities. While the potential of an opportunity looks enticing, a team can spin its wheels and fail if it misdiagnoses the opportunity. Whether you’ve solved the right or wrong problems, or capitalized on net negative or positive opportunities, the real question comes back to how you’ve framed the story.

Story framing has everything to do with what you believe about your organization, your products and your customers. It needs to happen prior to solving a problem or capitalizing on an opportunity. You can frame the story around a problem or opportunity, by asking three specific questions. Let’s break it down:

What’s The Present State You’re Solving For?

Take a look at the current state of the who and what you’re trying to solve for. Find out how the specific issue has affected a customer, stakeholder, or an organization. Begin by brainstorming how things have ended up the way they are. Take a look at what caused the current state, and how people have built around that inherent issue.

Ask what you, your team, or your organization can do to respond to the present state. This informs the underlying why of your role, your team, or your organization. When you answer this question, you discover your mission.

What’s The Future State You’re Building To?

Imagine a future where you’ve solved the problem or capitalized on the opportunity. Define what that future looks like. Brainstorm what a customer, a stakeholder, or the organization itself would look like if that issue was solved. Begin imagining how would life be more fulfilling or meaningful, if this was achieved. Have conversations with internal and external stakeholders to suss out whether they want this future or not.

As you do this, you can forecast the impact that you, your team, or your organization can make. And it helps define the unique value proposition you bring to the market. If done thoughtfully, you begin to see where you, your team, or your organization is headed. You discover your vision.

What’s The Roadmap (Plan) To Get There?

After assessing current state and imagining future state, it now becomes a matter of how you, your team, or your organization will impose your will on the future. What resources, man-hours, and strategy will you apply to move from current state to future state? Framing the story is about you, your team, or your organization doing the hard work of moving forward into something that's uniquely you. It requires self-criticism, honesty, and effort. This is a future that hasn't happened yet, and you are persevering your way to that future.

The roadmap from present to future, evolves over time. It requires constant assessment and adjustment. You have to keep internal and external conversations going, even when they’re difficult to have. If you can create an effective roadmap that continues to evolve, you’ll discover your values and align strategy around that.

Article Summary

So many teams and organizations attempt to solve a problem or capitalize on an opportunity for the wrong reasons or at the wrong time. What they fail to build around is a compelling story focus. Reframe every problem or opportunity, by answering these three questions first:

  1. What's the present state you're solving for?
  2. What's the future state you're building to?
  3. What's the roadmap (plan) to get there?