Today’s most successful businesses are storydoers. When it comes to making places is your organisation a 'teller' or a 'doer'?
Written by: Andrew Hammonds
The old way to market a business was storytelling. But Red Bull, Shaklee, Grind, TOMS Shoes, and News Corporation have shown that simply communicating a brand’s story - in the hope that customers will listen - is no longer enough. Instead, the story is evident in every action undertaken.
We've previously made a connection between brand and places in our article - Eight Global Trends influencing Placemaking.
If you belong to a Council, development company or consultancy (or some Government Departments) then you are part of a placemaking organisation. Do your actions reinforce the place story?
In our article Police - building on their vision, we've shown that organisations can reinforce or undermine their core mission and values though their buildings.
Do the users of your buildings, streets, squares and centres want places which are derived from an authentic and meaningful story? Than tell it through action, not just policies, strategies and regulations.
In True Story, Ty Montague argues that any organisation, regardless of size or industry, can embrace the principles of storydoing. In doing so they will also be nimble, more adaptive to change, and more efficient.
So how do we organize around a coherent narrative, or story, that is broadcasted through every action we take.
Montague introduces five critical elements—what he calls the “the four truths and the action map”—that are the foundation of storydoing:
1. The participants (your customers, partners, and employees)
The best 'story-doing' organisations create a narrative that people can participate in. In placemaking this would include the users of a place - visitors, residents workers, owners, etc. As well as employees of the organisation which influence the place.
2. The protagonist (your company today)
A good narrative needs an appealing protagonist that has a quest that the participants can relate to. Let's not forget the clearly defined enemy. You need to understand what the protagonist is for, but you also need to understand who the protagonist is struggling against. In Placemaking this might be a Councillor with a quest to "make (insert local centre) vital". The enemy might be youth un-employment.
3. The stage (the world around your business)
What do you understand about the place context and environment - eg place characteristics, technology and culture. How well do you understand your participants. What's going on with the people who will use your place? What are they trying to accomplish in their lives?
4. The quest (your driving ambition and contribution to the world)
The quest is ultimately the engine of any organisation which transcends everything it does. It's critical for the quest and the metastory be used actively within the business as everyday tools. In Placemaking this might be a developer with a quest to "bring streets back to people". The enemy might be child obesity?
5. Your action map (the actions that will make your story real for participants)
Build an action map based on the elements - offer, identity, capabilities, and culture. Offer - how is the meta-story impacting the way that you design and build your places? Capabilities - making your metastory true through internal and external people and skills. Culture - how is your metastory being expressed internally? Are you rewarding people who express the narrative and celebrating those actions when they occur in your culture? Are you making sure that your intention is aligned with your actions internally? Identity - is your corporate identity in line with your metastory? Are your communications in line?
To test this concept I have applied it to Macgregor Tce - in our article What's your Place Story?
View our presentation on Slideshare.
Is your Placemaking organisation a Place Teller or a Place Doer?
Written: Wednesday 5 February, 2014
Development Assessment or Place Enabling?;Ten Questions to focus a career in Urban Design + Placemaking; The Art of Placemaking - it's an attitude; Being yourself - better places through organisational authenticity; Local Business partnering to create better Places; A Bias Towards Action; With placemaking on the rise should we forget urban design? Are you a Placemaker or a Placemanager?
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We generate discussion among participants in our training courses in urban design and placemaking. While there are common qualities to the places we like, our own views matter. As suggested by participants, we have started this blog to continue this discussion on-line. The Comments section at the bottom of each article provides the opportunity, so don't be bashful. Particularly if you disagree with us!Add a comment