Your company’s future begins with the right story

My colleague Carl has a reputation for big ideas…the sort that challenge everything you think you know about corporate travel. He’s just shared one of those big ideas in a post where he muses how SAP could possibly become the world’s largest travel company. It sounds farfetched on the surface, but when you think about the technology and data that are driving the travel industry – and how platforms like SAP Concur’s might bolt into SAP’s powerhouse analytics capabilities – it doesn’t seem so unlikely after all…

Carl ends his post by admitting that SAP probably won’t ever claim that title – because to do so, we’d most likely need to start issuing actual tickets for trips. But reading what he wrote made me think once more about how the right story, shared with the right people, can help pave the way for products that are seemingly ahead of their time. If that’s true of products and services, why not entire companies?

The word “transformation” has been overused to the point where it’s starting to lose its impact. But that does not change the reality that pivoting a business to stay competitive, or discarding familiar processes to make way for more effective ones, is hard work. It requires buy-in from leaders, employees, customers, partners – an entire ecosystem of individuals with their own agendas. Not unlike selling in an unfamiliar, even challenging product!

Stories like Carl’s tie together some of those personal agendas, industry trends, and grander vision into a narrative that people can clearly grasp and, more importantly, want to work towards. If you can make it relevant to the right individuals, at the right time, you can take much of the pain out of even a sudden course correction to your business. That’s when big ideas like Carl’s become dangerous in the best way possible…not because they’re unlikely to succeed, but because of that spark of hope that says, they just might.

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