In the last two years, I have written a number of books about books, covering innovation, future trends, marketing, climate change, organisational resilience, strategy and sense-making. The next book about books will be about engineering the future. Covering concepts such as engineering as moral guardians, abundance and 3 levels of examing where the future is going. Personal, macro and at the level of your own business.
Storytelling as a common thread
One of the core themes across all those books about books is the importance of storytelling. Applicable and applied everywhere:
Technology is catching up
As with everything in business, you now have to put that storytelling into the context of technology developing at exponential speed, Moore’s law on steroids in every part of science you can imagine. Your smartphone 15 years ago was a skyscraper full of computers. Science fiction becoming science fact.
If you are a marketer you need to know about neuroscience, IoT, data, AR, VR, AI, 3D printing, ICT, blockchain and how they all interact with each other (like lego blocks) and how they will impact on predicting behaviour, customer service, distribution, media channels, measurement and metrics, personalisation, transparency, but also raw computing power soon able to tell stories at a level never seen before. Where everything you see becomes smart and therefore a medium (and a distribution channel).
Primarily and at its simplest level, it has been proven over and over again that the only way to capture the attention of your audience and to cut through all the media fragmentation is a good story that touches the heartstrings. Sociobiology and the Lindy effect. We have been communicating through stories for thousands of years and will do so for thousands of years in the future.
Visual and emotional
With a particular emphasis on visual and emotional storytelling. Visual because it is a lot quicker (important when our attention span is getting shorter) and emotional so that we remember. Which means that every company and organisation, at a minimum, will have to start taking video and visualisation a lot more seriously.
The soft stuff
Technology commoditises everything. You can buy AI and cloud computing by the kilo. Technology will not make you different. Therefore, marketing will become crucial. As an integral part of the business. As Drucker said, “because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two, and only two, basic functions: marketing and innovation”. With your organisational culture as the last marketing battleground. The soft stuff.
All the (old) marketing rules apply. Same is lame. You need to be different. You need to know who you are targeting. It needs to be consistent. Most important, it needs to be authentic and grounded in the mission, vision, values and passion of your organisation (the soft stuff). Everything will become increasingly transparent. If your own staff do not believe and live your story, you are on a hiding to nothing. The human mirror neurons will kill you if you are not seen as authentic.
To speed up your clock speed, you need to develop a dashboard and increase the quality of your information supply, including following a number of gurus. Here are some suggested sources. Follow these for a month and you will never be the same.
- Harvard Business Review
- Science Alert
- Abundance 360
- Singularity University
- Live Science Essentials
- Fast Company
- Big Think
- Axios Future
- Interesting Engineering
- Nano magazine
You need to develop a filter using passion, mission, vision, passion, positioning and resourcing, developing a strategic box. Anything inside the box is most relevant. Your direction is set by the targets. Movement is more important than the targets.
Reverse attribute listing
My favourite is attribute listing as it takes a very holistic approach that impacts not only the story but also the future business model and future opportunities. It is a technique where you split your company or your product into the smallest parts possible and start asking a few questions per individual piece:
- is there a story
- how does it add to the experience of service or product
- is it a differentiator
- is it core
- what can technology can we apply now
- what technology is available in 2-5-10 years that could be applied
- can we outsource it
- what emotions are involved
- what emotions are triggered
- does it have a negative or positive climate impact
- can we use it as a talk trigger
- can we visualise it (video, VR)
- can it be digitised
- can it become a distribution channel
- how quick or slow is it
- does it add to the friction
- can it be removed
- how much does it cost
- how much does it add to the profit
- how does it add to ZMOT, FMOT, SMOT, UMOT
Combine the above with a culture audit, find out what the storied told are, the language used, the trophies, artefacts, testimonials, colours, music, animals, onboarding, belief systems, behaviours, principles, etc. and you will have the basics for a strategy that is rooted not only in the future but is rooted from within.