Facilitate a feeling of team spirit. A shared narrative helps you create a sense of community around your strategy. Most companies have gradually come to the conclusion that long strategic documents are not the best way of communicating visions, strategies, analysis, KPIs or must win battles. Because such communication is difficult to understand – and even harder to remember. And many of these documents are based on vague formulations and buzz words.
“Talking heads” videos with the CEO being interviewed also don’t work, although they’re still a very popular means of communication from the management side. But what then works?
We love to talk
The challenge with long strategy documents and long winded formulations is probably due to the fact that we humans love to hear ourselves speak (and we love to speak about ourselves). Studies show that we people get a real dopamine boost when we hear ourselves talk.
Dopamine makes us feel happy
If you have not heard of dopamine before, it can be explained quickly here. It’s a chemical substance (neurotransmitter) that controls the brain’s reward system. It is released when the brain is exposed to certain stimuli, such as during sex, when taking drugs, eating chocolate or the likes.
That is why it becomes so self-reinforcing to hear yourself speaking. Because we simply feel happier when we speak. And everyone in the higher levels of management has something important to say – and everyone wants their fingerprints on the strategy. So everyone keeps talking and nobody listens.
But your recipients (employees) don’t understand the vision better the more you talk. It also does not mean that employees get a greater sense of ownership with regard to the strategy that you’ve worked so hard on. Fortunately, there is also a really good alternative to that type of communication.
Facilitate team feeling and empathy
The simple (but difficult) truth is that you need to talk less and listen harder. It’s about giving space and creating something together. And it relates to a hormone called Oxytocin.
Oxytocin is a hormone that is formed in the hypothalamus. It is called the “cuddle-hormone”. It has its’ name because it is released in the brain by hugs lasting more than 30 seconds. And oxytocin, like dopamine, gives a feeling of happiness and well-being in the body.
Related: Cuddle-hormone wins
But oxytocin can do more than that. It is of crucial importance when we connect with other people, when we have to trust each other – and when we cooperate, work together and help each other. The hormone makes us get a closer relationship with other people, and at the same time motivates us to work together. It does so by increasing the sense of empathy so that we can feel and understand what other people feel.
Create common ground with graphic facilitation
And this is where storytelling and visualization come into the picture. Research shows that we also get a boost in the Ocytoxy level when we are creative together, listen to each other (listen to stories) or when we laugh together.
And that is why we are experiencing more and more companies demanding graphic facilitation and storytelling when working with their strategy. Because the experience of the common creativity, such as visualization and storytelling, creates a strong feeling of togetherness. It hightens the team spirit.
When we are out drawing live, again and again we experience employees and managers taking photos of themselves – together in front of our work. They can recognize themselves in the story that is being drawn. And they feel they have helped to create the story and the imagery. And it is precisely this strong feeling of “a common we” that ensures that your message gets through and is remembered in your business.