Strategy + Narrative = FiveFour Advisors

FiveFour Advisors takes its name from two sources:

First, 5… 4…  then  3… 2… 1. FiveFour Advisors helps organizations establish enduring frameworks for action–whatever they do. We help with the “5” and the “4” so that you will be ready to implement–the 3, 2, and 1.

Second, Take Five. All my life, I have loved Dave Brubeck’s Take Five, an extraordinary and unique piece of music. It is great to listen to. It is also fascinating to think about–Five/Four! What did it mean to deliver five beats in a four-beat measure?

FiveFour Advisors is predicated on delivering value–in fact, over-delivering value. I always want you to get the most out of an opportunity.

My approach to Strategy was shaped by business gurus Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras in a book called Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies. It resonated for me like nothing else I ever read.

In its shortest form, it said that Strategy requires (only) that a company or organization understand the difference between what is core and should never change, on the one hand, and what must change to ensure progress, on the other hand.

First you differentiate the “5” and the “4” from the “3, 2, 1.”

Easier to say, harder to do.

In 2002 and 2003 I developed a planning process based on what I learned from Collins and Porras to lead strategic planning for the organization where I was CEO at the time, Opportunity Finance Network. That strategy, which was known informally as “Grow, Change, or Die,” transformed the industry of community development financial institutions (CDFIs).

Fundamental to the value of that strategy was the fact that the ideas were mined from practitioners in the industry. They rang true to people because they came from real business practice and experience. They told me what was core and what needed to change.

I was able to explore that strategy in person with Jim Collins a few years later. The few days I got to spend with Collins reinforced the importance of the “5” (core purpose and core values) and the “4” (a vision for what the world will look like when you achieve your core purpose) in creating an operating environment, culture, and working agreements that align with your long-term purpose.

I bring decades of experience with the “3, 2, 1”, too. But I believe I offer more value when I am helping organizational leaders identify, articulate, and apply a strategy and a narrative that informs and guides the enormous operational challenges of using resources to achieve purposeful goals.

Coincident with learning strategy, I learned storytelling. As a leadership tool, it is underused (if not undervalued). A good story connects data, culture, and goals into a memorable and compelling narrative.

Narrative adds to strategy and operations; it is not a replacement for disciplined decision-making or organizational execution. Done well, it lifts up your work, your people, your organization, and your brand.

Strategy + Narrative.

Welcome to FiveFour Advisors.


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