RICHARD Budding scientist Dear old Mr Cooper Fixed way to write up experiments Blow by blow account – sequential – apparatus / method / results / conclusion Why relevant today? Structure of majority of traditional research presentations Forces people to sit through pages of deduction By time conclusion is reached – checking emails or left for another meeting A lot of our behaviour is ingrained in us from when we’re young – old habits die hard Our view is that we’ve lived in the shade of science, its methods …. And lack of stories
At about the same time as Richard was busy with his experiment in rainy England, in Sunny California George Lucas was busy on a different experiment - a pet project that few believed in. The journal of the whills.
INCLUDE FUNNY NAMES FROM EARLY SCRIPT Deak Starkiller The dark side = the bogan Kaiburr crystal The princess of Ondos
So why care? Well because Star Wars, its universe, the characters and spin offs went on to become the most successful franchise in film history, worth $30bn and counting.
Our provocation for today: If it’s true that there aren’t many insight blockbusters, does it have to be so? After all Star Wars succeeded because it portrayed human truths – the essence of insight. And what could we learn from Lucas to help us be more memorable, exciting and universal.
We think there’s a lot to learn and that our current paradigm is wrong in many ways.
Of the many lessons, one we’ll come back to is copying. And one structuring device in particular, the Hero’s Journey Lucas copied this from Joseph Campbell and his Man With a Thousand Faces The book was a study of the universals in stories, particularly fairy tales Universals that hold up across cultures.
If I showed you the full version we’d be here all day So I’ll share the simplest version and we’d love you to have a go too
So here it is: a story structure with tension and drama that gets resolved. Do you remember Little Red Riding Hood? Help me out.
LRRH’s mother asks her to take a stroll to Granny’s house with some refreshments because she’s ill On the way LRRH ignores the advice to keep to the path, gets distracted by some flowers and meets the wolf This is a problem: will the wolf get to Granny’s house first? Yes – she eats granny and gets ready to eat LRRH Fortunately at the eleventh hour, the strong woodcutter breaks in and slices up the wolf Lesson: don’t talk to strangers
So how does this work in star wars? (Nick to use star wars figures on tables?)
OK who’s got luke skywalker? WORLD TODAY Who’s got C-3PO? INCITING INCIDENT Who’s got Darth Vader? CONFLICT Who’s got the X-wing? RESOLUTION Who’s got Chewie and Han? LESSONS LEARNED
So now over to you to have a go. 1. Think of your favourite story from childhood (or more recently, as long as it’s left an imprint) 2. Let’s hear some….what and why 3. Ok now you each have a copy of this template 4. Without hesitating, I want you to fill it in for your story 5. If it helps to start in the middle that’s fine, just try to get it done 6. Let’s hear a couple 7. How was that? Easy? Tough? Why….
OK…well the rest of our story will use the hero’s journey in reference to the work we’ve done together. We’ll try to tell you why stories and film have so much to offer and give you some examples of how you could copy us!!!
So let’s start today. In 2016. In the organisation Richard works for.
RICHARD Life is complicated Certainly in a business the size of Walgreens Boots Alliance 13,000 shops worldwide And a growing portfolio of global product brands Our stakeholder map has more connections than the Berlin U-Bahn So how to do we create business impact with our research
And many of us felt safe working in businesses on small planets But like Luke, we know there’s an exciting new world for us to explore and influence
But some of the safety is that traditional research teams can be treated as a vending machine Business stakeholders arrive with their research pound Get dispensed with quick and immediately gratifying data But not prepared like a Michelin starred meal to create a lasting memory
In our view we need to consign this model to the trash compactor!
NICK So what’s changing? What’s our call to action? Our equivalent of princess Leia’s message.
Well – business is changing… the buzzwords are agile, lean, always-on, just-in-time… The way people communicate is changing…we live in a visual culture where 5 minutes is the time you have to make your mark And expectations are changing…business leaders are looking to us to make sense of complexity; to connect the dots not collect the dots
If all these are true, and I think it’s hard to argue they’re not, then we can’t just keep telling insight stories in the same way as we have…
What is we thought about meeting invites as trailers? Debriefs as theatre? And our role as authors, producers and promoters?
But this creates conflict. Our models aren’t designed for the world of 2016. We don’t operate at the speed of business…
NICK But it’s not for me to tell you about this. Richard you have thoughts on how insight is commissioned and where we place our bets.
RICHARD This was the problem that I drew for you on a napkin at the bar Like all good stories… working on a piece of research there’s a start, middle and end But think about how we place our energy Traditionally too much time finding things out, less on defining the question, and making people take notice
NICK Have we got it topsy-turvy then?
RICHARD Well I’m coaching my teams to spend less time in the middle, showing our working, like I did as an 11 year old
So what can we do about all this? What’s our way out of the
NICK This is a provocative thought. That stories are what make us human.
NICK Why, because they provide a grammar of experience. A DNA that resonates wherever and whenever you hear them. That bind us together Ref. JUNG
NICK Beyond this stories create meaning. They connect past, present and future
Let’s talk potatoes Retailers run time limited offers We have a Star Gift programme at Christmas = scarce supply = but people often view without buying Used a story to dramatise tension King of Prussia Stimulated demand for carbohydrates by making them scarce Planting in royal palace to create impression of scarcity and exclusivity Simple story carried more weight than the equivalent bar chart
NICK And stories create empathy. That move us from belief to action. Think about the last year and the plight of refugees. We all knew it was going on. We read the statistics. Millions of people displaced, homeless. But what made the difference? A boy on the beach. N=1, not n=4 million The human in the data
NICK And we know now why this works. Our brains on fiction, not facts, light up more parts of the brain. They connect more synapses. They link to the older parts of our selves, the ones that drive action. And they are multi-sensory. They recreate experience. And embed stories in memory.
NICK So far, so good. But what does that mean in an organisation. In an insight team. On a project.
Let’s show you.
NICK If we’re learning from Star Wars we need to know the multiple levels involved. From idea to experience. From the box office to merchandise.
Lucas’ script was the start point But the production team made it real, and better. From Ralph Macquarie’s stunning art to ILM’s groundbreaking effects, to John William’s score, to Darth Vader’s breathing The experience in cinemas and the surrounding buzz made watching it more exciting than just staying at home And the franchise, with its figures and light sabre toys, made it social…
We’ll take each in turn. Remind you of what Lucas did, and show you how we’ve applied them at Boots.
NICK If we
Beyond the hero’s journey, Campbell was obsessed with archetypes. And archetypes come from Jung and his idea of the collective unconscious. In insight we use them all the time, in segmentations, in psychology, in brand-building. But they work because they are limited (no more than 12-20), because they are universal and recognisable, and because they contain tensions (superpowers and fatal flaws).
Traditional researcher would receive the debrief document 2 days (or sometimes 2 hours) before the debrief Best effort at adding value is to add a full stop with a red pen
How about we allow time and schedule a storytelling planning session up from Before a single chart has been created We know do it for all of our projects Some of our agencies are surprised – really you have time for this? It’s liberating
NICK We’ve used them in almost every part of our work, from analysis to how we personify brands (Boots and its comeptitors, or the Boots brands, like No 7)
And we’ve done things like this: creating Cluedo Cards that had archetypes for different people, and different parts of people – their psyche and ego states. That we used to create a boardgame
We spend millions of pounds on research It’s easy for it to sit on shelves (or a shared drive) Gathering dust or deleted in a database cleansing exercise
Whereas the achievement of Lucas has been to create a whole world, a universe that’s still lived out in dreams and in children’s bedrooms. Something that’s a coherent, textured, collection of stories that invite us to make new stories in our minds.
So we’ve invested in creating knowledge packs for all our main business areas Synthesising, summarising and bringing to life So many benefits Inductions Answers “can you just?” Helps team to be authority not just experts Saves money by not repeating existing work
We’re also started a range of publications to showcase our work For example this a book that shows a range of proven case studies in our business based on behavioural science
And yes, we’ve made films too. Here are screenshots from a 5-minute short we crafted to tell the story of what it’s like wearing glasses for the first time.
Taking psychology – transactional analysis with its parent, adult, child ego state model (interestingly a psychologist’s take on film) – we dramatised the conflicting and complementary parts of the self and made them flesh….casting a colleague and his son as characters to bring to life the drama of eyesight.
NICK Another feature of Star Wars is the quality of the event. Going to see Star Wars is exciting. Particularly a premiere. A visceral experience unlike any other. Do clients feel this way about our debriefs? If not why not?
NICK So a film is a film. But when it’s screened, in a big cinema, with all the theatrics that go with cinema, we’re talking about an experience – something irreplaceable, something special, something that’s more than just a film. Premieres for Star Wars have always leapt out of the screen and grabbed attention. What can we do?
Really try to avoid traditional debriefs We’re experimenting with a variety of formats We’ve tried a News at 10 approach with an anchor man and correspondents Created art galleries to guide people around
NICK A gallery is fine, but it’s still one step beyond a presentation. We’ve also tried to bring gaming approaches to our outputs. Here a detective-themed project gets a cluedo-style output, complete with board-game that we used as a non-linear structure instead of a traditional debrief. Playing with the Cluedo theme, we had afternoon tea, a record player and comfy chairs.
NICK But nothing can substitute for direct experience, so we’ve also repeatedly played with immersive approaches to insight. Based on the confucian notion “tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I’ll understand, involve me and I’ll believe”. A common technique for us is to create inspiration safaris where we take customers, or stakeholders out of the office to experience a best-in-class retail experience and draw their own conclusions.
NICK Our benchmark should be memorability. If we’re not remembered, we’re close to worthless. And if we’re not talked about then we’ll also never break out of the useful but worthy mould.
We said it earlier but the Star Wars merchandising world far exceeds box office and all DVD / digital downloads combined. The universe of SW has become its own space, full of creativity and play, extending the impact of the films into every social arena Insight can be the same. Should be the same.
Created some very simple materials to make sure our work lands with impact. At very little cost
Films always have trailers Why wouldn’t we do the same with research stories My team was doing some work for a colleague in the Republic of Ireland We sent her a physical invitation She said she rarely receives anything in the post so this was a great prompt
And we need to be disruptive So we put our research into prime footfall locations Thousands of people enter our Staff Shop every day And just as many stare at the wall in our toilets Simple ways of making connections
All good stories have a moral. A message. Lessons learned. Great art is inherently insightful. So what have we learned?
Great writers know their audiences, or create clear audiences – we need to design our work differently for each audience Successful stories don’t exist in a vacuum – they tap into trends, moods, markets…we need to put our stories into bigger frames Great authors steal with pride, from Shakespeare to The Beatles – so should we, borrowing formats, themes, styles… Great desigers know that bold is best, standing out and being single-minded counts – we should resist the urge to water down And finally, this stuff takes courage – nothing ventured, nothing gained. Take risks. Learn from mistakes. Do it all again.
ESOMAR Berlin - Learning from Lucas
Dr Nick Coates | C Space
Richard Drury | Walgreens Boots Alliance
ESOMAR Qualitative, Berlin 2016