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Chapter 10 | Narrative Guidebook

Writing It Up

How do you write up your Narrative so it can be shared and put into action?

Create a seed document that encapsulates your Narrative in several lengths and formats.

Writing it up

Weave the elements of your Narrative together into something concise, clear and compelling.

To write up your Narrative, you’ll combine the various elements that we’ve covered in this Guidebook.

Remember that the purpose of the Narrative is to establish a foundation for the relationship.

Watch out for the tendency to try convince to people you are right. The best Narratives don’t sell people on anything. They create a connection and flow in which people naturally sell themselves.  

If you meet someone new, you don't try to convince them that you would make a good friend. You share things about yourself that give a sense of who you are, what you've done and what's important to you. You trust that if there's the right fit, they will see that themselves.

It's the same thing here. The Narrative is saying:

  • Who you are as a network of stakeholders
  • What you are co-creating that is valuable to the world
  • How your products and services contribute to that Shared Purpose
  • Why someone would want to be a part of your network
  • How everyone relates to each other around your purpose

Naturally, you should write in a way that is attentive to your audiences. Most importantly, write it in a way that inspires you.

Ultimately it is your passion and authenticity that create the most engaging Narrative.

Create your Seed Document

Create a Seed Document to distill your Narrative and serve as the basis for other communications.

We call this the Seed Document, because it serves as the basis for many other kinds of expression.

Remember that this is not supposed to be finished copy. Don’t worry about coming up with a tag line or something that can go on your website. Just focus on distilling the essence and heart of your Narrative.  

The Seed Document includes three formats:

  • Summary is a one-page collection of all the elements described in this Guidebook.
  • Presentation ensures it can be delivered by others.
  • Prose ensures that the Narrative can stand on its own.

Presentation vs. Prose

The Presentation format usually starts with some kind of observation or insight—ideally something that is intuitive but not obvious. This is the best combination to get people nodding their heads in agreement, trusting in your credibility and interested to learn more. Hint: to start, copy your work on the prior 'ad libs’ pages into a series of slides.

The Prose format has four lengths:

  • A word or phrase
  • A sentence
  • A paragraph
  • A page

This ensures that the Narrative can scale longer or shorter without losing its essence.

The following examples show what the Prose phrase, sentence and paragraph versions might look like for several familiar companies.

Example

Airbnb

“We used to take belonging for granted. Cities used to be villages. Everyone knew each other, and everyone knew they had a place to call home. But after mechanization and the Industrial Revolution of the last century, those feelings of trust and belonging were displaced by mass-produced and impersonal travel experiences. We also stopped trusting each other. And in doing so, we lost something essential about what it means to be a community. At a time when new technologies have made it easier to keep each other at a distance, you're using them to bring people together. And you’re tapping into the universal human yearning to belong—the desire to feel welcomed, respected, and appreciated for who you are, no matter where you might be.”

PHRASE: Belong anywhere

SENTENCE: Technology can help bring people together.

Example

Starbucks

“To say Starbucks purchases and roasts high-quality whole bean coffees is very true. That’s the essence of what we do—but it hardly tells the whole story. Every day, we go to work hoping to do two things: share great coffee with our friends and help make the world a little better. It was true when the first Starbucks opened in 1971, and it’s just as true today. From the beginning, Starbucks set out to be a different kind of company. One that not only celebrated coffee and the rich tradition, but that also brought a feeling of connection. Our mission is to inspire and nurture the human spirit—one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time. We’re a neighborhood gathering place, a part of the daily routine—and we couldn’t be happier about it. Get to know us and you’ll see: we are so much more than what we brew.”

PHRASE: Third place

SENTENCE: Coffee, connection and community inspire the human spirit.

Example

Sephora

"At Sephora, beauty is in our DNA. Sephora believes every stroke, swipe and dab reveals possibility, and we share our clients’ love for the confidence that our products, services and expertise bring to their life every day. In every store, clients unlock their beauty potential at our Beauty, Skincare and Fragrance Studios through intuitive technology and guidance from the most knowledgeable and professional team of product consultants in the beauty industry.
[We are] obsessed with teaching and inspiring clients to play in a world of beauty. ... Sephora encourages bold choices in beauty—and in life with the purpose of inspiring fearlessness."

PHRASE: Let's beauty together

SENTENCE: We can all be artists for our own beauty.

Recap

How do you write up your Narrative so it can be shared and put into action?

  • Weave the elements of your Narrative together into something concise, clear and compelling.
  • Combine all of the ‘ad libs’ you did earlier in the guidebook to start creating your Seed Document. Don’t worry about getting the wording perfect; this isn’t external “messaging” but rather a starting point.
  • Share and discuss your Seed Document with your colleagues to check for alignment.
  • Use your Seed Document as a reference to guide strategic decisions and inform communications.

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Read the other Guidebooks

Guidebook

Essentials

Explore foundational mindshifts that prepare you to leverage the power of network effects.
Read the Guidebook
Guidebook

Narrative

Transform audiences into co-creators by creating a powerful story based on Shared Purpose.
Read the Guidebook
Guidebook

Doctrine

Develop principles for empowered decision-making across 
networked organizations.
Read the Guidebook
Guidebook

ORBIT

Generate brand gravity to create Ongoing Relationships Beyond Individual Transactions.
Read the Guidebook
Guidebook

Platforms

Use platform thinking to activate network effects and create exponential results.
Read the Guidebook