Which comes first (why stories matter)
Most of the time we do the work. The work is our initiative and our reactions and our responses and our output. The work is the decisions we make and the people we hire.
The work is what people talk about, because it's what we experience. In other words, the work tells a story.
But what if you haven't figured out a story yet?
Then the work is random. Then the story is confused or bland or indifferent and it doesn't spread.
On the other hand, if you decide what the story is, you can do work that matches the story. Your decisions will match the story. The story will become true because you're living it.
Does Starbucks tell a different story from McDonald's? Of course they do. But look how the work they do matches those stories... from the benefits they offer employees to the decisions they make about packaging or locations.
Same is true for that little consulting firm down the street vs. McKinsey. While the advice may end up being similar, each firm lives a story in who they hire, how they present themselves, etc.
The story creates the work and the work creates the story.