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Jeff Bezos published Amazon’s much-awaited annual shareholders’ letter on 11th April. It made the headlines for one particular inclusion: his ‘challenge’ to retail competitors, to match Amazon’s $15-an-hour minimum wage and employee benefits.

Looking deeper into the document though, there are some critical storytelling lessons that can be gleaned. Here are my top three:

  1. Make it Surprising
  2. Make it Structured
  3. Keep it real and relatable

Let’s examine each one.

1. Make it surprising

I have blogged earlier about the value of surprise (using the principle of norm-variance) to get the audience’s attention. Bezos uses it multiple times in the letter:

  1. Start with a surprising fact (almost shrouded in mystery): He starts with a startling fact of how their third-party business has grown at a 52% CAGR (compounded annual growth rate), more than double their first-party business. That surprising fact gets our attention and we are curious to know the underlying reason.
  2. Continue to use norm-variance throughout, to make facts stand out
    • eBay comparison: While the 52% CAGR sounds impressive, what if that was the standard industry growth? In order to make that number stand out, he had to give a norm. And what better norm than the growth rate of eBay – the original third-party marketplace. eBay’s CAGR number turns out to be just 20%, making Amazon’s third-party growth rate massively higher. (Incidentally, Amazon did get a snarky response from eBay…  but that’s how these things get more fun right?!)
    • Busting myths: To show how much headroom is available for growth, Bezos states that “90% of retail remains offline; more in other countries”. While there’s no ‘norm’ given in this case, it isn’t required. It is a surprising finding since many of us would assume that online retail is in a dominant position compared to offline.
  3. Failure needs to scale too: On the face of it, this statement is surprising. Which leader would openly state that they will increase the scale of their failures? Bezos does. And then goes on to justify the same with clear arguments.

2. Make it Structured

We had earlier dissected the structure of Amazon’s 2018 letter. The 2019 one is shorter, but a bit more ‘wandering’ (keeping with the theme!). Having said that, it does have a clear flow, with 5 main points being made. As always I have attempted to build the Pyramid structure for the same.

Here’s the detailed version of the same:

Amazon’s success is driven by listening to customers and wandering on their behalf; and taking care of employees with all heart

  • We’ve had some stunning outcomes driven by new initiatives
    • Third party sellers have grown at a stunning 52% CAGR; more than double our first party sales
    • AWS is now a $30 billion annual run rate business and growing fast
    • Thousands of customers are building machine learning models on top of AWS with SageMaker
  • This success is built on listening to customers…
    • E.g. Amazon Aurora: Companies felt constrained by their commercial database options and had been unhappy with their database providers for decades – these offerings are expensive, proprietary, have high-lock-in and punitive licensing terms
    • E.g Amazon Go: Checkout queues
  • …But more importantly, by guided wandering on their behalf
    • Some of our biggest successes are from guided wandering
      • Prime, Fulfilment were key drivers of the Third Party growth
      • Echo was a product of guided wandering
    • This is needed because customers don’t always know what they want
      • No one asked for AWS or the Echo
    • We had the ability and courage to innovate to give clients breakthrough products
      • Ability: A culture of builders
        • People who are curious, explorers, like to invent
      • Courage: Guided wandering needs heart
        • Programs like Prime and Fulfilment were extremely radical when launched and were taken up at significant financial risk and after much debate
        • The path is messy and tangential
  • However, as we scale, this policy would mean our failures would also scale
    • As we grow our failures will also grow – we will occasionally have multibillion-dollar failures.
    • We won’t undertake such experiments cavalierly; but not all good bets will ultimately pay out.
    • However, failures can be the stepping stones for success – e.g. the Fire phone’s failure gave learnings when building Echo and Alexa.
  • Finally, innovation is built on people; we take care of ours with all our heart
    • Current employees: 15$ min wage
    • Current employees:  Career Choice and Career Skills training programs
    • Future employees: STEM programs and Vets education

3. Keep it real and relatable

Just because you are making earth-changing moves, doesn’t mean that your language has to be a mystery to decipher. Bezos talks in conversational, everyday English and uses simple analogies where needed.

  1. Pithy, everyday language.
    • “Kicking our butt badly”. No MBA speak like “proving to be significantly challenging competitors”
    • “No one asked for AWS. No one.” Emphasising the point, like how we would do in a conversation.
  2. Analogy: Alexa compared to Star Trek’s first computer voice

By employing so many storytelling techniques Bezos vividly illustrates the thought and effort that goes into crafting this critical document. And by the way, he must have been really busy with the personal developments during this period. Despite these distractions, he’s put out a stellar document.

Having said that, what could be better…

As always we will look at what could have been better. Three things according to me:

1. Flow breaks down: The letter’s structure was fine for the first two points (success and its drivers). But the third one doesn’t really flow from the first two. It seems like Bezos just wanted to highlight those points (higher wages, impact on community etc.) for building some good PR. This article from Fortune surmises it could be because of the threat of ‘anti-trust’ legislation against the Big Tech companies. Whatever be the cause, the letter suffers from not having a clear one-line theme (as compared to last year’s letter – which had a clear connecting concept)

2. Way too much technical detail: In the discussion on databases, the geek in Bezos takes over. We could have used some editing there, as well as an analogy, to explain to us non-techies!

Bezos geeking out on databases

3. The human element: Like last year’s letter, this one too skips giving any anecdotes or human stories underlying the numbers. How about putting the spotlight on a third-party seller who exemplifies the impressive growth? Or an employee who’s maximised her potential after taking the Career Choice program? These stories make your data more relatable.

The final word

In sum, despite not being the tour-de-force that the earlier letter was, the 2019 Amazon Shareholders Letter packs in a mean punch in making its points… and leaves us with valuable storytelling lessons as always.

*****

Featured Image Credit: Amazon Go in Seattle from Wikimedia Commons by SounderBruce [CC BY-SA 4.0]

Warren Buffett may be one of the most envied guys on the planet – for his unparalleled wealth, that magic touch in picking stocks, and decades of consistent outperformance.

But he also has a most unenviable task: to write a 12-page annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders.

Why should that be so difficult you may ask? Consider the facts.

75 companies, 365 days, 12 pages

Berkshire Hathaway is not your normal investment company. It’s the world’s third biggest by revenues ($247B) that owns an incredibly diverse set of companies – seventy-five entities across insurance, manufacturing, utilities and services (as he puts it, making everything from ‘lollipops to locomotives’). Take a look at this list below:

Berkshire List of Companies (Page 135)

Now imagine writing a detailed document that talks about all these varied enterprises, and the overall economy, and the impact of key accounting/tax policies and the future outlook … and (here’s the really difficult part): making sense of it all to the average shareholder.

Not an enviable task? That’s what I thought.

Buffett’s approach: Storytelling

Warren Buffett employs two masterful storytelling techniques to take on this daunting task:

  1. Get the ‘Big Story’ right (think of this as the basic pizza base and sauce)
  2. Embellish the Big Story with key story elements (think of these as the toppings that add flavour, texture and colour to the pizza)

Let’s look at each one in turn.

I. Getting the Big Story right

I had earlier blogged about Jeff Bezos (just two steps higher than Mr. Buffett on that Forbes list) who used the ‘Pyramid Principle’ in constructing Amazon’s succinct annual letter. Not surprisingly, Buffett’s approach is similar.

While he takes some liberties with the format, the broad flow is clear, and he makes three key points:

Main message: Berkshire Hathaway has consistently outperformed, driven by its unique structure, approach and American tailwinds; it is likely to continue doing so

  1. Berkshire has consistently outperformed the competition
    • We normally use two measures to state this (net profits and Share Book value) – but both have lost relevance
    • On the measures that matter however, we are doing great
  2. There are three key reasons for our success
    • Our unique structure: We are a ‘forest’ of companies with five ‘groves’ – where the whole is greater than the sum of parts
    • Our approach: Long-term shareholder oriented; prudence in use of debt
    • The American economy tailwind: which has propelled us for the last 77 years and will continue to do so going forward
  3. (Unsaid) You should (continue to) invest in Berkshire Hathaway to enjoy outstanding returns
The Berkshire Letter ‘Big Story’ by Story Rules

In addition to this, he does cover a couple of additional aspects – e.g. a fond farewell to Tony Nicely (the retiring CEO of GEICO, Berkshire’s flagship insurance player). But these are add-ons. His Big Story consists of the key messages above.

Clearly a good Big Story is not enough though; you need the little elements – the toppings – to enhance your story.

II. Adding the Key Story Elements

1. Analogies: Explaining the performance of 75 companies across multiple sectors was going to be tough. Buffett brilliantly simplifies it using the analogy of a forest. Asking analysts to resist the temptation of doing a company-by-company analysis of Berkshire’s value, he likens their holdings to a forest filled with five ‘groves’. Here he goes:

“Investors who evaluate Berkshire sometimes obsess on the details of our many and diverse businesses – our economic “trees,” so to speak. Analysis of that type can be mind-numbing, given that we own a vast array of specimens, ranging from twigs to redwoods. A few of our trees are diseased and unlikely to be around a decade from now. Many others, though, are destined to grow in size and beauty.

Fortunately, it’s not necessary to evaluate each tree individually to make a rough estimate of Berkshire’s intrinsic business value. That’s because our forest contains five “groves” of major importance, each of which can be appraised, with reasonable accuracy, in its entirety. Four of those groves are differentiated clusters of businesses and financial assets that are easy to understand. The fifth – our huge and diverse insurance operation – delivers great value to Berkshire in a less obvious manner, one I will explain later in this letter.”

Analogies are powerful when they are:

  • Simple: Easy to understand and visualise for the reader
  • Deep: Have multiple connections with your underlying concept
  • Referenced multiple times: In the story, indicating depth and continuity

(For some more examples of the use of analogies – especially a dancing geologist – you can read this earlier post I’d written)

2. Aphorisms: These are concise sayings (told sometimes in the form of a story) that pack in a lot of wisdom. Buffett is a past master at such sayings himself (e.g. “Price is what you pay, value is what you get”).

In this letter, Buffett is critical of companies which don’t show ESOPs (Employee Stock Options) as an expense. Here’s how he uses an aphorism (from another famous dude) to make his point:

“For example, managements sometimes assert that their company’s stock-based compensation shouldn’t be counted as an expense. (What else could it be – a gift  from shareholders?) And restructuring expenses? Well, maybe last year’s exact rearrangement won’t recur. But restructurings of one sort or another are common in business – Berkshire has gone down that road dozens of times, and our shareholders have always borne the costs of doing so.

Abraham Lincoln once posed the question: “If you call a dog’s tail a leg, how many legs does it have?” and then answered his own query: “Four, because calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it one.” Abe would have felt lonely on Wall Street.”

Someone described proverbs as “Short on words, long on meaning”. I concur.

3. Norm and variance: We have written about this powerful storytelling concept before (and how Steve Jobs and Elon Musk used it). Buffett uses it at multiple places – for example in the below instance where he talks about the right (and wrong) performance measures:

“In the first and fourth quarters, we reported GAAP losses of $1.1 billion and $25.4 billion respectively. In the second and third quarters, we reported profits of $12 billion and $18.5 billion. In complete contrast to these gyrations, the many businesses that Berkshire owns delivered consistent and satisfactory operating earnings in all quarters. For the year, those earnings exceeded their 2016 high of $17.6 billion by 41%.”

I’ve tried to represent the above through some simple graphs:

Using the right norm-variance

In another example, he extols the virtues of the American economy’s tailwind – that has propelled growth across sectors, through good times and bad.

“If … $114.75 had been invested in a no-fee S&P 500 index fund, and all dividends had been reinvested, (the) stake would have grown to be worth (pre-taxes) $606,811 on January 31, 2019.… (if you had) opted instead to buy 31⁄4 ounces of gold with your $114.75… You would now have an asset worth about $4,200, less than 1% of what would have been realized from a simple unmanaged investment in American business.”

He then finishes with a flourish of wordplay:

“The magical metal was no match for the American mettle.”

4. Pithy, conversational humour: Buffett never misses an opportunity to poke some harmless fun – especially at himself and his business partner, Charlie Munger. Here’s his take on their age:

We continue, nevertheless, to hope for an elephant-sized acquisition. Even at our ages of 88 and 95 – I’m the young one  – that prospect is what causes my heart and Charlie’s to beat faster. (Just writing about the possibility of a huge purchase has caused my pulse rate to soar.)”

“In addition, certain shareholders will simply decide it’s time for them or their families to become net consumers rather than continuing to build capital. Charlie and I have no current interest in joining that group. Perhaps we will become big spenders in our old age.”

And that’s not all – there are more. For example, when explaining the reasons for why the ‘Share book value’ metric isn’t relevant anymore, he uses another storytelling concept: ‘The Rule of Three’ – and gives three reasons for why it doesn’t work.

(I thought of including it as a story element, but it was, well, violating the same rule, so I decided to keep it as an ‘extra’ item!).

Another striking aspect is the use of everyday conversational English, and not drowning the audience in business and financial jargon.

What could be better?

Superlative as the letter is, it could still be better in … three ways (there you go):

  1. Spell out the Big Story more clearly: As of now, I am inferring some of the bigger messages. It would be nice for Buffett to clarify those himself
  2. Reduce the preponderance of accounting terms: These may be a put-off for the non-financially savvy reader. I could get most of what he was saying (I’m a CA, guilty as charged), but someone who doesn’t understand financial analysis may struggle in some sections.
  3. Some visuals: The letter is worded evocatively – but perhaps some visuals/charts would make comprehension easier (such as the norm-variance one).

Unenviable task, Enviable result

Buffett may have a tough storytelling ask, but he sure proves his ‘magical mettle’ at it. I’ll be looking forward to many more such letters from him.

*****

Featured image credit: From Wikimedia Commons by USA International Trade Administration

Do you get stuck in any of the following situations:

  • Your team has just completed a kickass project and wants to tell a story that does justice to their effort and outcome
  • You are pitching your company/product to a key institutional client
  • Your six-year-old never tires of asking you: “Papa/Mamma, can you please tell me a story”

In each of the above situations, the issue is not that you don’t know what to say (ok perhaps in the third one it is). The issue is you don’t know how to structure your thoughts in a simple, engaging story format. If only there were an easy to use, and yet comprehensive story framework that you could use…

A Cheat Sheet for the 7Cs

In an earlier post, we had seen how most major blockbuster movies use a simple yet reliable story framework to engage the audience – I coined it “The 7Cs Framework”.

Now while that construct is powerful, it can be a bit challenging to use, especially if you are a beginner at storytelling.

Enter – the Cheat-Sheet for crafting your own story. I have adapted this from a famous one-sentence story spine by Pixar Studios, which goes like this:

Once upon a time there was _______. Every day, _________. One day _____________. Because of that, _________. Because of that, _________. Until finally _________.

While this format is great, for me it is a bit too spartan to create a business story. And so, here’s my adapted 10-line framework that can get your thoughts flowing smoothly and enable you to craft an engaging, comprehensive story:

  • Once upon a time there was a:
  • And everyday:
  • Until one day:
  • Because of which:
  • Because of which:
  • So then:
  • Overcoming the:
  • By:
  • Until finally:
  • So now:

Let’s explain what each of the above lines stand for (and you’ll see our familiar friend – the 7Cs making their appearance here):

A short story structure with each element described

The structure is best understood through a couple of examples. Here’s a real-life business story:

The Netflix story

That’s the Netflix story in 10 lines! (By the way, if you want a more vivid narration, go no further than this absolutely fabulous podcast series, called Business Wars, recommended by a friend, Rahul Tawde. It brings the whole story alive.)

Here’s another example of the 10-line story. This was inspired by a discussion in a recent classroom session:

Do you know someone like this manager? 🙂

In the above example, notice that the tool (Trello) which helped the Hero, made an appearance only in the 6th line! Most often our solutions and products occupy prime space in our story – when instead it should be our customer and her problems. We come in much later.

Go forth and create stories

And so, you’ve been given the power to craft your own stories. Go wild, be creative, mix things up. It may help you get unstuck the next time you need to tell your project story.

A good way to practise this structure is to conduct a ‘story circle’ exercise (I underwent this in an improv training session organised at Storywallahs). You form a circle with 3 or more participants and one person starts off the story with line 1. The next person in the circle builds on the story by adding line 2… and so on. Sooner than later, someone introduces a funny twist and the entire group is laughing. You may not come up with the next blockbuster idea, but the exercise is a great stress reliever.

A disclaimer

Finally, a disclaimer, in case you are planning to use this to tell stories to your kids.

I once played the story circle game with my wife and my six-year old during a car ride and it was fun. A few months later, when he was pestering me for a story during sleep-time, I started off… “Once upon a time there was a _____ and everyday he would ______”.

I was probably on line 3, when he asks: “Appa, are you using that story format again? Please can you tell me a proper story”

With today’s kids, you cannot win.

*****

Featured image credit: Pixabay

Is there one Story framework to Rule them All?

You have a big presentation coming up – pitching your product to a prospect, sharing a project success story, or just convincing your boss to approve a new training program.

You have your standard credentials deck/project presentation, but have the feeling that it is more snooze-inducing than approval-winning. The slides are filled with information, the flow doesn’t seem right and there’s too much “me” and too little “client/you”.

In today’s attention-deficit times, that approach cannot work. You can’t just inform – you have to engage.

Is there a way to persuasively structure your story such that:

  • You position the client front and centre of the narrative
  • The story ‘flows’ seamlessly, and
  • The presentation retains the audience’s interest throughout

Inspiration from the movies

To answer this question, let’s take inspiration from another industry: movies. Surely we aren’t the first guys grappling with the issue of crafting a compelling story. Can we learn from good movies on how they do it? To put it in other words, is there a story formula/framework that is used by almost all successful movies?

Turns out, there is.

By applying this framework, your business presentations would become much more impactful, engaging and … what’s more – faster to create! A participant at a recent workshop told me “I wish I’d known this framework a few months back when I started work on my key presentation. I would’ve saved so much time”.

At this point you may be like: “Cut it out, just spill the beans”. I will, but not before asking you a simple question: Who or what is the Hero of your business story?

Who’s the Hero?

You are making a product presentation to a prospective client. Who or what is the hero of the deck? Is it:

  • Your diagnosis of the problem your product solves
  • The proposed solution (product)
  • The client outcomes
  • The underlying technology

 

The answer: None of the above.

A typical mistake we make in our presentations is to showcase ourselves as the hero, coming to the client’s rescue. This means the deck focuses on our history, our team, our experience, our reach, our outcomes – you get the drift.

But the client isn’t interested in our story – she wants to solve her issue.

We need to reframe our story by keeping the client at its front and centre – by positioning the client as the hero.

The Hero’s Journey

This brings us to a reputed, decades-old story framework: The Hero’s Journey1, by Joseph Campbell, an American Professor of Literature who wrote about story structures.

When I heard about it, I looked it up and came across this:

Hm, quite a mouthful, isn’t it? Not the easiest to understand.

So I decided to simplify it and adapt it for a business context: presenting the 7Cs Story Framework.

The 7Cs Story Framework – In Movies

The 7Cs are: (Client) Context, Change, Conflict, Challenges and Counters, Conclusion and Call to Action

Does that seem like a theoretical construct that might be present in an obscure presentation slide? Well let’s take some of India’s most successful movies  – Baahubali, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, PK (and later Dangal) – and apply the model on them:

Isn’t it fascinating – these three blockbusters, which seem so different on the surface, all have a similar underlying structure? It’s like people having vastly different body types, facial features, hair… but a similar skeletal structure.

In fact, to explore this framework further, I’d like to dive deeper into India’s highest grossing movie: Dangal. They have shown a fascinating use of this construct:

The Goal: Engaging your Attention

Why do such diverse blockbusters2 follow a similar (not-so-secret) formula? The reason is simple: they want to hold your attention (in today’s attention-deficit-age). To do that, they use two devices:

  1. The Conflict: This is the binding thread that holds the entire movie together. In Bahubali it is: Will the son be able to reclaim his kingdom or not? In Bajrangi Bhaijaan it is: Will Bajrangi be able to get the girl back to her parents or not? And in PK it is: Will PK recover his device and get back to his home planet or not? The conflict ensures that you are interested enough to watch the entire movie. However just one question cannot hold our attention for so many hours. Which is where the script-writers introduce the other device: challenges.
  2. The Challenges (and Counters): In trying to solve the conflict, the Hero would face many challenges (e.g. Bajrangi getting arrested, PK unable to speak the local language, the father-daughter tiff in Dangal). Each challenge is a question to the audience – how will the hero solve this puzzle? Each ‘Counter’ is the answer. And after all the counters, (usually) comes the happy ending – the Conclusion or resolution for the main Conflict.

The 7Cs Story Framework – applied for business

Now while it’s all fun and interesting to see this construct in movies, you may be thinking – heck, how  can I use this at work?

For a business story, here’s how the 7Cs Story Framework looks:

Let’s explain each ‘C’ in brief using a small case example: Samira, a senior sales leader at Abacus Tech, a healthcare IT company, was presenting to CHS, a US healthcare client which was considering setting up an advanced Business Intelligence (BI) system to manage its burgeoning data requirements. CHS’s President however, was a patient-and-employee-focused medico who was sceptical about technology and the need for a fancy new system.

Here’s how Samira can pitch to CHS:

  1. Context: This is the ‘business-as-usual’ scenario that the client (hero) was living in, before the change or disruption hit them. In a classic story, this is the “Once upon a time, there was a _________ and everyday he would _______” line. E.g. CHS is a leading healthcare system known for its focus on a superior patient experience. It leads the industry in patient and physician satisfaction metrics; however lags in technology adoption. (what is unsaid here is that: so far this tech-laggardness was ok and did not impact CHS adversely)
  2. Change: The change is an event which impacts the client. Changes could be sudden and dramatic (e.g. demonetisation); or an event which is known to be launched on a particular date (e.g. GST rollout). But most typically it’s an industry trend/process that plays out over a longer time period (it could be a few years, such as spread of smartphones, or a longer time period, e.g. the use of digital payments). Technology usually underlies almost all change. Most people are aware of such changes, but they tend to ignore/underestimate its impact. In case of CHS, the key industry trends impacting them are: healthcare data-explosion; higher patient expectations of customised care and the rising regulatory reporting requirements. Change is what makes the ‘business-as-usual’ approach redundant, risky or costly.
  3. Conflict: This is the central question which the hero needs to solve to address the impact of the change. A key sub-question that needs to be answered for the ‘conflict’ is the cost of inaction. What are the stakes? What would happen if status quo was maintained? Why should the client bother doing anything at all? Answers to these questions broadly come under two categories: fear and greed. Fear talks about what the client can lose out on (existing market share, relevance, regulatory costs), while greed explores what they stand to gain (new markets, leadership in a virgin space, cost savings). In case of CHS, the President’s heart beats for patients and employees. So the Conflict can be worded as: How can CHS deliver better patient care and employee experience (and derive other key benefits) by putting in place a state-of-the-art Business Intelligence system? 
  4. Conclusion: Before describing the challenges and counters, it is useful to paint a picture of the ‘happy ending’ for the client. If the Conflict shows the cost of inaction (by painting a doomsday-ish scenario), the Conclusion draws the client towards itself and makes them want to undertake the journey. You need to show them the Promised Land. Make it as vivid as possible – tell it from the point of view of individual actors in the system, rather than at an overall level. A great example is this video for a bicycle store in the UK.  In the CHS example, the Conclusion can be painted in terms of a pre-and-post scenario of much better experience of individual patients and hospital employees because of better predictive analytics, easier data retrieval and faster processes. Of course you need to also back this up with hard numbers – cost saving, potential new business, etc.
  5. Challenges: Once you’ve ‘sold’ the promised land, this section brings the client back to practical reality. Clearly the journey is not going to be easy. There would be multiple challenges: technical, financial, regulatory, people-related… The client needs to be aware of these, so that they know that they just can’t undertake the journey with any partner (or on their own). To successfully address the challenges, they need to identify the right partner for the journey. Which is where you come in (notice how late your entry into the story is). Here’s where we segue into the next section – your strengths in the form of special skill sets that enable the client counter the challenges. In the CHS case, the challenges could be: Presence of a complex legacy system; the need for a faster-than-normal rollout, given the upcoming centenary celebration; and a need for a multi-skilled workforce.
  6. Counters: In this section, you’ll state the counters planned for the identified challenges. You should also mention here, why you are best placed to support the client in this journey. Case studies of previous projects (your strongest suit), impact delivered, awards received, client testimonials – all of these need to make an appearance here, against the right challenge/counter. In the CHS case, your counters could be: Abacus has rich experience in handling similar complex legacy systems, as also projects with tight deadlines (give case studies for both) and it has one of the widest-array of skills in the industry, given specialisation in healthcare technology.
  7. Call to Action: Finally after explaining everything, there’s one place where the pitch can falter: at the last step when it lands in the zone of “we’ll think about it and get back to you, when we do it”. Many problems get solved only when they become really urgent. In your case, this is the section to answer the question: Why now? What is the cost of immediate inaction/delay? What if the client postpones it by six months? If your project genuinely has such a cost, then point it out. In the CHS example, Samira could end by saying: CHS has been a leader in patient care for almost a hundred years. For the upcoming centenary celebrations, it would be befitting to have a patient and doctor inaugurate the new BI system that would vastly improve their lives. If we decide to go ahead in the next couple of weeks, Abacus can ensure that the project is ready for launch in time.

So there you have it. For your next sales deck/project success story, position your client as the hero and show how they can undertake the journey through the 7Cs with your support to navigate the rough waters.

Feel free to reach out to me for help on your story structures. Happy storytelling!

*****

Featured image credit: Pixabay

Hero’s Journey: From Wikimedia by User: Slashme

All movie posters/images courtesy individual movies