One of the most difficult challenges for companies is to tell their story in a compelling way. We all know people who seem to be natural storytellers—those who can captivate an audience, in person or with the written word. What seems so easy for others can often be elusive when you attempt to describe what makes your company distinctive.
In my experience, every successful business has an interesting story to tell. The obstacle is often that those who know the company best are so integrally involved in strategy and operations that it can be nearly impossible to take a step back and tell the story from a different perspective. It’s also true that most of us have difficulty when it comes to self-promotion. As a result, it’s often easier for someone else to tell your story.
An organization my firm recently began working with provides a case in point. The Civic Consulting Alliance does phenomenal work by forming pro bono teams composed of private-sector talent that work with government leaders to take on the city of Chicago’s most pressing issues: education, public safety, transportation, the environment. In fact, Civic Consulting is the oldest and most successful organization of its kind and offers a model for how cities can benefit from public-private partnerships.
But as Brian Fabes, Civic Consulting’s CEO (and a former McKinsey colleague), acknowledged at a meeting recently, the consultant mind-set, with its focus on strategy and analysis, doesn’t lend itself to emotive storytelling. Similarly, Civic Consulting tracks its progress rigorously, and I imagine that even as the wins pile up, it can be easy to view them as data points rather than as projects that are having a material impact on people’s lives.
That’s why it was such an eye-opener to attend one of Civic Consulting’s recent board meetings. Suffice it to say, everyone in the room came away reinvigorated after hearing stories about the progress the organization has made.
We’ll be working with Brian and his team to ensure that the passion, commitment, and results that define Civic Consulting are well represented going forward. It’s especially gratifying to be able to contribute to such a worthwhile organization.