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StrategyStory at the Strategic Management Society Conference

StrategyStory brings together a prestigious panel for this year’s Strategic Management Conference to discuss the importance of storytelling. (Image credit: Strategic Management Society)

StrategyStory is delighted to have hosted a prestigious panel at the 2022 Strategic Management Society Conference, which included co-founder of Admiral Insurance and Confused.com, Kate Buell-Armstrong, BAFTA-winning commissioning editor/producer, Adam Gee and the University of Victoria’s Professor Roy Suddaby.

The international event – held in London this year – brings together the world’s leading thinkers in the field of strategy and strategic management. This year over 1200 registrants attended from all over the globe including North America, Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, and South America.

The conference calls for ‘research contributions that will help organizations create innovative, sustainable, and resilient strategies for this more open world’

Panel members
The panellists

Our panel included:

  • Dr. Kate Buell-Armstrong, co-founder of Admiral Insurance, and founder of Confused.com
  • Adam Gee, BAFTA-winning commissioning editor/producer
  • Professor Roy Suddaby, University of Victoria, Canada and former editor of the Academy of Management Review
  • Professor Robert MacIntosh, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Northumbria University and Chair of the Chartered Association of Business Schools
  • Kate Hooper, StrategyStory co-founder and former BBC senior producer

Panel chair
Professor Donald MacLean, University of Glasgow Adam Smith Business School and co-founder of StrategyStory


Professor Donald MacLean, University of Glasgow Adam Smith Business School, and co-founder of StrategyStory
Professor Donald MacLean, University of Glasgow Adam Smith Business School, and co-founder of StrategyStory

Why is this panel discussion so important?
A cursory glance at the news headlines is all it takes to remind us that, politically and economically, things have rarely been more turbulent. Those leading organisations of every size and shape face particular challenges in planning for long-term success in the face of significant short-term uncertainty. Having the right strategy in place is crucial.

StrategyStory has one clear message: Strategy is tired. Traditional approaches to doing strategy are failing because they are out of date. Why? Because we are emerging from the age of the machine and we have not updated our strategic repertoire. We need to put people at the heart of developing strategies for them to really work.

Chaired by Professor Donald MacLean, the panel discussed  how effective storytelling in organisations can create strategies that empower the workforce, and actually deliver results. 

Adam Gee, BAFTA-winning commissioning editor/producer
Adam Gee, BAFTA-winning commissioning editor/producer

Building Strategy through Stories
Having the right strategy is about more than just knowing which markets, which customers and which product or service to offer. Even the most plausible business plans can fail unless they’re underpinned by a compelling reason to care. People remember, and are convinced by, stories. In contrast, market data and competitor analysis is simply too dry. As Adam Gee reminded us, the most important question to ask when developing and sharing strategies that seek to engage people is ‘how do you want them to feel?’

The role of storytelling in strategy

As a multiple BAFTA winner, Adam Gee was well positioned to remind us that connection is, first and foremost, emotional. Stories reach for the heart and it is feelings that motivate action and therefore, ultimately, drive strategic impact. Adam gave a great illustration of the power of story in transforming engagement in marine conservation. He shared with us a TV programme about regulations which demanded that significant volumes of fish were discarded having been caught. He explained that “a government consultation that normally would get about 50 responses, through our audience and our media generated over 25,000 responses, a completely different order”.

From the perspective of those who have launched and nurtured successful businesses that operate at scale, Kate Armstrong described how stories were central to the growth of Admiral Insurance, Confused.com and her latest venture, the gin distillery, Secret Garden. “We were  a group of people who were starting something from scratch and it was clear we were moving into an industry that was by its very nature, overcrowded. We designed a culture that we wanted to help us build the business. It was driven by storytelling, essentially. And now, 30 years on, Admiral is still regularly found to be one of the great places to work in independent surveys.”

StrategyStory's co-founder and Creative Director
StrategyStory’s co-founder and Creative Director

StrategyStory’s Kate Hooper laid out what a story-driven approach to strategy in organisations looks like in practice: “ We gather stories from across workplaces and figure out what’s actually going on to help us discover what challenges the business really faces. It’s not based on assumptions. It’s based on the reality of what’s going on so that we can get to the point that we can start to develop strategy having really broken through some organisational silos.” One of the examples Kate shared was a recent partnership with the pioneering Security firm Pointer Ltd:


Roy Suddaby is one of the world’s leading organisation theorists and he opened by developing a line of work Robert MacIntosh and Donald Maclean have been pursuing for years – the over-emphasis on so-called rationality and the downplaying of emotions in strategy-making: “Unfortunately, most of what we know about strategies derives from economics which rests largely on assumptions about rationality and the idea that facts are free of emotions. However, while we make these aspirational claims to rationality, the fact is that narratives and particularly emotional narratives are often much much more persuasive than facts,” he explained.

Robert MacIntosh, Professor of Strategic Management and Pro Vice Chancellor at Northumbria University
Robert MacIntosh, Professor of Strategic Management and Pro Vice Chancellor at Northumbria University

It was great to see consensus emerging about the central importance of compelling stories in organisations, and the panel marked the beginning of a new community.

StrategyStory is now launching a novel, collaborative research network of practitioners and academics who share a passion for strategy, and who are interested to learn from best practice across a range of public, private and third sector settings.  

The StrategyStory GameChanger community

Being a strategist can sometimes be a lonely existence, we’re creating a supportive community of big thinkers, pioneers and business leaders who are committed to sharing cutting edge developments in the world of strategy.

We’ll share our latest content and tools from time to time and keep you updated with our events and gatherings.

You can sign up here to join the GameChanger community and receive our free ebook.

Relevant Information

  1. The Strategic Management Society is the world’s largest and most prestigious academic conference for strategy researchers. It will draw more than 1,000 delegates and alternates between North America and Europe.
  2. StrategyStory offers consultancy and advice to a range of international clients from its headquarters in Inverness. It was co-founded in 2017 by Professor Donald MacLean and ex-BBC Senior Producer Kate Hooper. StrategyStory recently won the Digital Innovation category at the Highland Business Women Awards.



Sound interesting?

Liked this? You might enjoy our Strategy in Action page to find out more around our digital storytelling and innovation work.


StrategyStory supports businesses to develop strategies that work. This means strategy as collective action rather than a dusty document. We deliver through partnership programmes, online learning, workshops, seminars and public speaking. We also deliver lectures, talks and sessions on strategy and storytelling at private and public events, and host events, workshops and training in Strategy, Leadership, Entrepreneurship and Storytelling in our new studio in the Inverness Creative Academy. 

If you are interested in finding out more please get in touch. hello@strategystory.co.uk




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