What makes this project special
Whether you are trying to make sense of the world or simply your place in it, being able to articulate a cohesive and compelling narrative for why you do what you do is critical for creating connection and success.
To that end, we have seen activists, leaders and changemakers use story to create a sense of power and emotional resonance with audiences since the dawn of time. But when a bunch of data engineers came to us wanting to use story to communicate their value and build a more robust internal culture – we knew the tides of systemic change had turned.
The background – for those who want to dive a little deeper
BizCubed is a rapidly growing Australian data engineering and analysis company, supporting people to make better decisions each day.
From climate change to food insecurity, they believe that we can’t simply ‘engineer’ our way out of the world’s monumental challenges, nor can we solve them alone. Instead, we need billions of people to make better decisions each day, knowing that those decisions add up to big change. Sounds pretty simple, right? Well now it does, but unfortunately, the world of data engineering is largely misunderstood and entirely too complicated.
Approaching Digital Storytellers in mid-2021 to look at how story and a deeper connection to purpose could enable their customers to see the bigger interconnected picture, BizCubed embarked on a storytelling journey.
Over a series of workshops, together we uncovered the story of their people, their unique approach and their inherent passion for what they do, articulating it as a compelling story that was narrated from the heart rather than the head.
Data engineering is an extremely complex and technical field. Our challenge was to synthesise, simplify and create a compelling narrative that not only connected to BizCubed’s target audience but showed the value of their immense expertise and unique approach to data as an asset.
The storytelling journey
While storytelling is not just the fluffy and the fairytale, it is a natural counterbalance to the world of facts and figures. Stories bring data to life. And they are critical to unlocking our strategic goals because we are emotional decision makers, no matter how ‘logical’ we like to think we are.
The process of learning how to tell your story involves leaning into and learning about each individual component of a narrative and building one on top of the other to create a cohesive whole.
Much like a data set, understanding the mechanics of story — how they break down and build back up — involves taking apart the cogs and wheels that propel the story machine.
So, why not take this opportunity to look at BizCubed’s storytelling journey as a story in itself? And it starts like this…
Once upon a time
If BizCubed was a character in our Story Consult, they would be our ‘Hero’.
This useful story frame of the ‘Hero’s Journey’ created by Joseph Campbell, centres the story of an ‘everyday’ person who receives a call to adventure by some sort of external force. They leave their so-called ‘ordinary’ world behind and set off on an adventure into a new world, experiencing trials and tribulations that force them to learn new skills and lessons, before returning to their world transformed, enlightened with new gifts and ideas.
Starting out on their storytelling quest, eyes wide with anticipation and bags packed for an adventure, BizCubed meets their guide: Digital Storytellers, an experienced crew of facilitators ready to help them to navigate the storytelling wilderness.
Crossing the threshold, together, they traverse rocky mountain paths and craggy terrain of Broca and Wernicke’s area, referring back to their trusty maps (The Story Canvas and Campaign Roadmap), as often as needed.
Then suddenly, the road gets rocky; the tone slips; the message falters. To get back on course, we retrace our steps, reorient our compass and take steps to elicit an even deeper understanding of decisions made and paths taken before we can determine which mountains are left to climb.
While our journey weaves past lived experiences and lessons learned, occasionally stopping to pick up a pebble of revelation, the path starts to become clear in front of us. Arriving at our destination — the end of our session and the project — we bid each other a fond farewell, until we meet again.
Our Hero, BizCubed, ventures back into the world of data and processes they know, but they are not the same — and neither are you, because you too can see yourself in our Hero’s journey.
The power of narrative
While this is an oversimplified representation of the Hero’s Journey, it serves to illustrate that through our storytelling work and indeed our Story Consults, we guide organisations to understand the power of narrative and how to use it effectively. This knowledge is the start of being able to truly and meaningfully build a culture of storytelling that infuses your organisation with story and impassioned connection at every level.
Through story, we can create vision and meaning from otherwise inanimate numbers and hard data, to bring information to life with relevance and purpose.
What emerged – the key outcomes
Story artefacts – what was ‘created’
‘Story artefacts’ is what you have in your hands as a result of a storytelling process (e.g. videos, blog posts, animations, illustrations). They are critical to unlocking the power of storytelling because they make stories tangible and give people, both internally and externally, the ability to interact with and share those stories.
- Bespoke Story Canvas with Impact Outcomes and Indicators
- Live scribe of the Story Consult to keep and share
- A narrative structure to replicate for future speeches and presentations
- New copy with a story through live for the BizCubed website
- A completed Campaign Roadmap to guide next steps for the launch of BizCubed’s new narrative in sales and marketing
Three things we learned
- Storytelling is an incredibly powerful way to communicate complexity and technical information — it distils information into something tangible, relatable and understandable. It connects with the audience in a way that makes sense and is ‘sticky’. As organisations with lofty goals, we need to be able to strike a balance between hard data and softer storytelling skills to be effective and create meaning for our audiences.
- Investing in storytelling is not just about the tangible outcomes — it is also about building story literacy to facilitate ongoing internal/external communication, sensemaking, connection within a team and connection to purpose.
- A better world starts with making better decisions each day — we’ll leave the details to BizCubed but we love the change they’re creating by helping people to make better decisions each day, knowing that those decisions add up to big change.