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In praise of the storytelling engineer

In praise of the storytelling engineer

We founded Beautiful Everything to allow us to focus on the sort of work we love doing. One thing we love doing is finding ways to communicate complex products by creating stories and experiences. Finding ways to tell the product’s story in a way that engages people’s interest and communicate its relevance and benefits. This can be a challenging process. Complex products are exactly that. Complex. Everyone in the company sort of knows that they’re selling something amazing. But sometimes the whys and wherefores get a bit lost in the complexity of what it is. Or the uniqueness of the product starts to blur into all the other similar products. It’s just another plane. Or engine. Or printing machine. Or investment fund. Or chainset.

In my experience the answer usually lies hidden away within the organisation. I’ve found lots of the best stories when we go exploring to find the people closest to creating the product. Engineers, developers, technicians, product developers. They’re often the back room people, hidden away in the lab or dev suite using their skills to bring the product to life.

They’re not always the first people to come to mind when we ask about storytellers. And they don’t always get to the heart of the story straight away. I often find that the breakthrough moment comes a little way into the conversation with them. Initially they repeat the story everyone else tells about the product. Then they start to realise I’m interested in what they really think. Then they start to roam around the story trying to get to the heart of the matter. Often they’ll then stand up and start drawing fascinating diagrams on a whiteboard and talking passionately about what’s really great about the product. Quite often that’s the moment we’ll go back and capture to put at the heart of the story.

So yes, we’re big believers in finding the expertise within the organization and helping those experts to tell their stories. It’s a technique Apple understand. Who better to explain a new piece of tech than the man behind the design. Jonny Ives is the perfect example of the quiet, non showman sort of design engineer who can explain just what it is about a new piece of tech that will make it an amazing part of our lives

We’ll leave the final words to Beth Comstock, Head of Marketing and Innovation at GE. She’s a passionate advocate of using storytelling as a means to inspire people about technology and help people connect with the benefits to their lives. And has helped produce some amazing stories about the amazing innovations GE bring to the world.

“You can’t sell something until you’ve entered someone’s mind. We talk about market share but its really about getting mind share, getting inside people’s minds and creating a story for what’s possible. If you begin with the premise that your company can be a storyteller you find storytellers everywhere. I find some of the best story tellers are engineers. For us it was a big awakening to say, you know, we’re geeky, we love it, the kind of things we make are badass, they’re big, they’re amazing works of mankind. “

Engineers telling stories about their badass inventions. We love it.

Photo credit from Flickr – Nick Cross

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