This Monday afternoon workshop offered great insight into the way innovative and successful companies have made the transformation from a culture of Storytelling to one of “Storydoing.” For those not familiar with the term, Ty Montague (author of True Story: How to Combine Story and Action to Transform Your Business) set the scene by doing just that, and telling us a story.
This moody tale described how the Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner partnered with Red Bull in a space diving project in October 2012. Baumgartner flew approximately 39 kilometres (24 mi) into the stratosphere over New Mexico, in a helium balloon before freefalling in a pressure suit and then parachuting to Earth.
Several records were set in the process, and gained huge publicity for both the skydiver and Red Bull. Over 8 million people watched this event through television, online and social media. Why did Red Bull do this? Because it perfectly captured the company’s ethos of living life to the extreme. Through this exercise, it allowed people to live their own dreams through the medium of Red Bull and reinforced the company’s claims to be a ‘lifestyle experiences’ company rather than just a manufacturer of packaged goods.
He then outlined 6 key attributes of Storydoing businesses:
- Put the story at the centre of your business, with responsibility moving to the leadership team at CEO level, rather than leaving it with the Marketers. Apple is a prime example of a company that has managed this
- Be on a Quest — be clear what your ambitions are and strive to achieve those targets, no matter what company size or sector you’re in.
- Have an enemy — know what you’re up against and what you’re trying to overcome
- Create shared understanding and adoption across the organization — giving Zappos as an example, Montague described how radical new approaches in customer service had real impacts on the workforce
- Focus on a few iconic innovations — new ideas that flow from the brand quests can help redefine the company to the world. Share inspiration throughout the company by word of mouth.
- Fuel external participation — invite people to get more involved, allow greater shared experiences and increase social participation.
Conrad Lisco, Head of Community Experience at co: collective, continued this theme by taking us through some of the more detailed structure of Storydoing and how this model could be applied to our own organisations. Creating and executing a Storydoing plan requires a structured thought process where key areas are evaluated and major stakeholders identified (for example, Lisco labeled Protagonists, Antagonists, Participants, etc). An ideation and design stage follows, where the iconic innovations are assembled to realize the Quest.
An audience workshop session then allowed participants to collaborate on how this methodology translated through to their own organization, with a couple of groups chosen to expand on their findings and take the audience through the results. Key areas for discussion were how the concept of Storydoing made a comfortable fit with those organisations involved in the more challenging areas of manufacturing and business in sustainability terms, and whether the ‘Storydoing’ approach would ever reach saturation point if it became the norm throughout the business world.