Editor’s NoteThis is the third and final excerpt that we’re running from Winning the Story Wars: Why Those Who Tell--and Live--the Best Stories Will Rule the Future by Jonah Sachs, the cofounder of Free Range Studios (the creative studio behind The...
First -- I'm finally back curating after spending 5 days facilitting 2 back-to-back corporate retreats on story processes and tools for organizational change. They were both awesome and successful!
I mention this to not only explain my absence, but also as a lead-in to this piece.
This article is a long read, so take your time. It is written by marketing guy Jonah Sachs, the author of a recently released book "Winning The Story Wars..."
Here is what I like about the article: it explains how our brain is wired for stories, and how to leverage 3 elements to create positive marketing stories: Freaks, Familiars, and Cheats. He then goes on to use 2 viral videos as examples to support his thinking. It is a good discussion and examination of the power of these little recognized elements in creating successful stories that engage. I love that he brings these 3 elements into our awareness!
Now here is where I have a few issues. One -- Sachs continually misses the underlying fundamental dynamic as to why these 3 elements work in marketing. That element is deep play. As human beings, play is fundamental to our existence. Deep play is when we are so engaged and enthralled with and immersed in an event (whether it be a video, game, work, or a parade) that we lose ourselves. This can be an experience that lasts only a few minutes, or several hours. Understanding the concept and experience of deep play is essential to understanding why these 3 elements of Freak, Familiar, and Cheat work.
When we use stories in organizational change work, understanding these dynamics is key to success. "Freaks" are those people we call 'positive deviants' -- they have discovered unique ways to implement a process successfully while others have not. "Familiars" are those we build tribes with in organizations, and "Cheaters" are those who have either broken out of the system, or who we use as cautionary tales of 'what not to do.'
Two -- this whole story 'wars' metaphor. I really have a problem with this because it pits us into win-lose scenarios that ultimately leads to significant ethical problems -- like using stories for oppression, and over-storying where one story dominates and drowns out another's story usually at the expense of truth, validity, innovation, creativity, etc.
Linking stories and war is not helpful when a business is trying to build value, a Unique Selling Proposition, be innovative, create change, etc., even though that dynamic is played out all the time (think of how people pitch their stories against each other in war, politics, religion, etc.).
War is a dominant metaphor that we rarely question, but that gets us into lots of trouble eventually -- typically with huge costs at the end. Think about the consequences of using the notion of 'story wars' in organizational change. Yikes!!
I bring this up so we can THINK better about what we are doing, and use our stories wisely, to enrich our lives but not at the expense of others. So we can THINK through the ethical and practical limitations of this metaphor. So we can find better ways to language and create our world.
Words create worlds. Stories create worlds. Use them wisely.
OK -- enough preaching :) Go play with these ideas of Freaks, Familiars, and Cheats to build engaging stories that engage people in deep play!
This review was written by Karen Dietz for her curated content Just Story It at www.scoop.it/t/just-story-it