Tell Stories not User Manuals

by | Aug 27, 2020 | Change |

stories not user manuals

The difference was stark. As I talked about the different data fields, sharing methods, and models I could feel the group glaze over and check out of the conversation. Polite smiles formed on their faces, excuses were made, and I was left on my own. A few metres away, the group around my colleague grew. Her arms were flying, people were laughing. As I moved closer, I could hear her telling stories about data sharing frustrations and everyone was nodding. She had them in the palm of her hand.

We buy emotionally and then justify it logically. We buy stories, not user manuals.

This is true in buying food, houses, cars, technology, and so on. But it is also true in how we ‘buy’ into change, knowledge, relationships, digital transformation, and so on.

And yet, many of us try to ‘sell’ change, digital transformation, knowledge using technical details. We sound like we are reading them the user manual. And user manuals almost never have a story in them. However, in our excitement, we forget what it was like not to know what we do now. We forget the journey we went on.

And this happens with technology geeks, but also people passionate about education, water, children, economics, learning, widgets, and so on. We all can and do ‘geek’ out.

I know this because this is me more often than I care to admit.

We need to learn who are fellow ‘geeks’ are (our tribe). And who is not. By all means geek out is joyous technical details with fellow geeks. But to the rest of us, tell stories of why you are passionate about it, when did it ‘click’ for you, and how it impacts lives of people.

When in doubt, tell stories not user manuals.

Photo by Papaioannou Kostas


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