When you were a kid, what was your favorite fairy tale? Cinderella? Pied Piper of Hamelin? Little Red Riding Hood? Pinocchio? Imagine for a moment … Imagine … What made your favorite fairy tale so memorable? I guess that in every case, our answer is in one word: Drama!
In today’s world of information explosion and big data, stories are becoming ever important for people to quickly make sense out of a deluge of information. As I noted a while ago, people quickly forget about presentations that contain detailed information and data. However, the memories and feelings of engaging stories could last for a lifetime. In today’s world of hyper-competition, information explosion, and big data, our best chance of standing out in the crowd is to create and present memorable stories. But, how can one simply create dramatic and memorable business stories?
W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne, in their bestselling business book “Blue Ocean Strategy,” provide entertaining stories of how Blue Ocean startups disrupted established Red Ocean companies. Who can forget Kim & Mauborgne’s intriguing stories of Cirque du Soleil vs. Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey Circus; Southwest Airlines vs. Established Long Haul Airlines; Yellow Tail Wine vs. Premium and Budget Wines? At the heart of every Blue Ocean story is the archetypal conflict of Top Dog (“Villain” in Red Ocean) vs. Underdog (“Hero” in Blue Ocean); in biblical terms: Goliath vs. David. At the heart of every Blue Ocean story is the archetypal Hero’s Journey which involves transformation or disruption of the Red Ocean.
In Blue Ocean stories, the Top Dog and Underdog initially compete for the attention and wallet of Dissatisfied Customers and/or Non-customers. Consequently, the Top Dog, Underdog, and Dissatisfied Customer constitute a triangle which I am referring to as the “War Triangle.” In short, the Top Dog, Underdog, and Dissatisfied Customer are engaged in a Business War Game. The War Triangle underscores the importance of strategy and tactics of players to deliver awesome customer experiences in a business war game.
The War Triangle (Dissatisfied Customer-Top Dog-Underdog) is directly inspired and corresponds to Stephen Karpman’s Drama Triangle (Victim-Persecutor-Rescuer) for illustrating the dynamics of relationships in dysfunctional teams. In his seminal publication on “Fairy Tales and Script Drama Analysis”, Karpman argues that the memorability of fairy tales such as in Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, and Pied Piper of Hamelin is driven by the conflict, dysfunctionality, or chaos that is inherent in the Drama Triangle. Here, the inevitable conclusion is that the inherent dynamics and surprise of the Drama Triangle as well as War Triangle account for the engagement and memorability of Blue Ocean stories.