3M The article “Strategic Stories: How 3M is Rewriting Business Planning” is a two in one type of article. The author initially discusses the drawbacks of using bullet point in presentations, mainly on how it contains lack of information, clarity and attention to the audience. The author continues by giving an alternative way of delivering the idea in mind by a strategic narrative style, which captures the audience and delivers the points needed to be made effectively. Throughout the article the company 3M is mentioned, it is at the end where the author gives a realistic example of how 3M used the strategies mentioned and succeeded.
We know now that the problem is bullet points. But the question is “What is so bad about bullet points? ” Bullet points allow the presenters to move on to the next point quickly while assuming that the audience has understood the point and the idea behind it. This is very dangerous depending on the type of audience being presented to. Usually the audience would be a mix of different departments and fields. One point most likely will be perceived differently from the audience, especially if the presenter just “wings it”. In addition, bullet points are too generic.
The ideas behind vague bullet point in strategic planning are that it can be applied to any type of business. It fails to recognize how these bullet points apply specifically to the field. Any company can state “Increase response rate” but it does not recognize where it is needed and the way that it will positively affect the company. Finally, bullet points leave critical assumptions about how the business works unstated. When a plan is given in a bullet point, without much emphasis in determining how it is implemented, leaves the audience assume how it is done, and as mentioned earlier will be perceived differently.
A good example of this is Market share, profits and new product development. These three areas, which are used too generally, causes confusion as there are multiple ways it can be mapped. Increased market share produces profits which paves way to new product development, alternatively increased profits paves path for new product development which increases market share. Without clarification evaluation can be very difficult but would probably be denied the proposal. It is human instinct that people love listening to stories.
Effective story telling grabs the attention of people and has them in a bond that can be that can take them anywhere. A religious person can speak of heaven and mentally have his/her listeners actually felt like they are there. God is a story teller, and some read His stories are read on a daily basis. In fact, God teaches us lessons through stories of prophets like Moses, Job, Joseph etc… 3M recognized the issue that managers are relying heavily on bullet points and are falling in a pitfall of problems as mentioned earlier.
Upon recognition of this problem they used the science of stories to develop the narrative logic of strategic stories. We’ve already been through the flaws of bullet points and the best ways to counteract all of those flaws is by capturing the audience and have them understand all the points in details in a manner that will not seem boring to others while ensuring that all those listening are on the same path and conveying it in a manner that all can relate to.
In the case of the 3M the final narrative strategic story ensured all those points were covered by setting the stage, then introducing the dramatic conflict and finalizing by reaching a resolution. By setting the stage, the presenter was able to set the audience in preparation for the dramatic conflict. In the dramatic conflict, the presenter already has the attention of the people previously and given the idea how 3M is threatened by the competition. This is a great attention grabber because all the employees want 3M to succeed.
Finally after making the audience feel threatened by competitors, the presenter laid out a carefully planned and defined resolution which gives the audience a sense of relief if the resolution was implemented. The affectivity of this model heavily relies on how well the resolution is planned out. If the presenter has pervious successful projects, then a successful implementation will gain the people trust and confidence. Communication is a part of everyone’s lives. It does not necessarily strictly apply to businesses or work.
People live a happy life or the opposite depending on how well they communicate with their partner. Similarly in a business atmosphere, an employee’s communication style can have a heavy impact on how well they do in their career, of course this depends on the type of work done. But the higher one gets in management the more communication is required. Decision making is effectively done when it is in groups. When the group has defined a way to communicate effectively with each other the quality of their decisions improve.
From an individual aspect, when there is a proposal applying what has been used with 3M would be an effective way of delivering thus gaining the approval of what you have worked. Upon reading the article I’ve began to realize the meetings and conferences I’ve attended personally that used this type of communication. Those types of meetings were very entertaining and educational at the same time. Similarly in a classroom atmosphere where the students and instructor share stories related to the subject on hand help reinforce the idea while maintaining attention. It is at times like these where I am drawn in and lose the sense of times.
Hours would pass and it would feel only one hour. I’ve always been fascinated with this type of strategic narrative. I’ve been in board meetings where my attention is grabbed only when they are items related to my field. I’ve given presentations before specifying only the bullet points, thus losing the attention of those that are not directly involved. It usually consists of a discussion upon going through the points when needed. I’ve never used this style in a board meeting but when I do get back to my professional career I’d like to try to develop a presentation using these standards.
The Global Fleet Graphics is now called 3M Graphics Solutions. I have dealt with 3M in the aviation sector recently and they provide quality service. Some of the airplanes had 3M branded Logos that were peeling off. The airline got superior service and provided solutions in minimal time. Market share details of 3M Graphics Solution could not be found online but they have countless positive press releases and 500+ patents. In 2010 3M had an all-time record sale of $26. 7B, an increase of 15%, and also achieved a record profit of $5. 9B.