Storytelling for Innovation at High Desert ESD | Day Three

Storytelling for Innovation at High Desert ESD | Day Three

Mark ZuckerbegPhoto credit: Mark Zuckerberg, by TechCrunch, a Creative Commons image on Flickr.

We started a new innovation series in this new year. It’s 18 Days to Storytelling for Innovation, a program on the Avanoo platform. (Thanks to Anna Higgins, our Director of Innovation, for leading us.) We watch a short video each day and reflect on it individually and as a group. I’m going to chronicle my individual reflections here.

Day Three—The Social Network

In today’s video, we were challenged to draft an innovation narrative that answers two key questions:

  1. Who is the customer for the innovation?
  2. What problem does it solve?

The narrator used an early scene in the move The Social Network as the example. In the scene Mark Zuckerberg is getting annoyed by his friend Dustin. Dustin is interested in a girl and is peppering Mark with questions. It is the moment Mark realizes who his customer is for Facebook and runs back to his dorm room to add the critical “Relationship Status” to the Facebook profile. In an innovation narrative, the protagonist is the customer.

My innovation narrative has a teacher for its protagonist. The problem the teacher has articulated is a lack of a way to discover and organize curriculum resources. Evernote and several other products have attempted to solve the problem, but are missing the mark because they have packed the tools with too many options. The solution becomes part of the problem and the innovation gets put aside. I think about this often as I brainstorm a solution that is simpler and more useful.

Storytelling for Innovation at High Desert ESD | Day Two

Storytelling for Innovation at High Desert ESD | Day Two

Woody from Toy Story on a bookshelf

Photo credit: Woody on is new space on the DVD shelf by semihundido, a Creative Commons image on Flickr.

We started a new innovation series in this new year. It’s 18 Days to Storytelling for Innovation, a program on the Avanoo platform. (Thanks to Anna Higgins, our Director of Innovation, for leading us.) We watch a short video each day and reflect on it individually and as a group. I’m going to chronicle my individual reflections here.

Day Two—Toy Story

Our first challenge as we journey through the storytelling vignettes is to understand narrative structure, so we can apply it to our own innovation narratives.

Our reflection exercise for today asked us three questions about Toy Story 3:

  1. Who is the hero or protagonist? Woody
  2. What is the hero’s motivation? I’m torn on this. Woody is going through the bittersweet transition parents do as their children grow and move on. There’s the balance of pride and happiness with the sadness and initial loneliness of the transition. But I think his motivation is less about his changing relationship with Andy (a hope to hold on to things as they were in the past) and more about his love, care, and responsibility for the other toys in Andy’s toy chest after they are mistakenly put in the trash.
  3. What is the central conflict? In a classic sense, the central conflict is man against man—toy against toy, in this case. Andy’s optimism about the role of toys in a child’s life is challenged by Lotso, a toy bear who believes all toys are destined to be mistreated and discarded. This conflict is set in the larger narrative of the toys making their way back to Andy’s house.
Storytelling for Innovation at High Desert ESD | Day One

Storytelling for Innovation at High Desert ESD | Day One

Forest Road in Oregon by Michael MattiPhoto credit: Forest Road in Oregon by Michael Matti, a Creative Commons licensed image on Flickr.

We started a new innovation series in this new year. It’s 18 Days to Storytelling for Innovation, a program on the Avanoo platform. (Thanks to Anna Higgins, our Director of Innovation, for leading us.) We watch a short video each day and reflect on it individually and as a group. I’m going to chronicle my individual reflections here.

Day One—The Graduation Speech

Today’s video reflection asked us to write down a story we’ll never forget and some aspects of it that make it memorable.

I heard the story I’ll never forget my sophomore year of high school. The setting was our high school gymnasium. We were gathered together for an all-school assembly. After the athletic letters and academic awards had been celebrated, we settled in to listen to a guest speaker. Normally these were yawners—some muckety-muck visiting to lecture us on responsibility, our future, or politics. That day’s guest was different and had our full attention within minutes.

The speaker was an older man. (“Older man” then meant he was probably in his early to mid-thirties. Oh, to be young again.) He was silent and still for the first minute. And then he started:

Three high school boys climbed in their car after a day at the lake last summer. It had been a perfect, sunny day and they had been swimming, tubing, and diving for hours. It was time to start the 45-minute drive home. They had been on the road just long enough for the vinyl seats to stop burning the backs of their thighs when a station wagon came speeding up behind them. The driver, a man, stayed on their bumper for a few moments and then swerved into the oncoming lane to pass. Shortly after he passed the boys’ car, he slowed down.

 

The boys cursed, honked, flipped him off, and pulled around him. They joked about never turning into “grandpa drivers.”

 

A few minutes later, the driver passed the boys again. And a few moments after that, he slowed again. This time he was swerving within the lane as he slowed. The boys, even more annoyed, passed him again, flipped him off again, and joked even more. They sped up to leave him behind.

 

Five minutes had passed when they saw him approaching them again. The boys swerved into the center of the road to block him from passing again. The older driver honked and swerved side to side to find a way around their car. He finally succeeded. He didn’t slow down this time, but the boys were enraged. They sped up even more, passed the single driver, and once they had pulled away again, threw on the brakes and stopped with their car sideways, blocking both lanes of the quiet road.

 

The driver laid on the horn as he approached, came to a quick stop, and jumped out of his car. Before the boys could say a word, he yelled, “My 5-year old son is laying in the back of my car. He was stung by bees and cannot breathe. Let me pass!” One of the boys ran over to the station wagon and saw the young boy passed out in the back and shouted back to his friends. They moved the car quickly, their anger gone, and fell in behind the station wagon to chase him to the hospital.

 

The other driver’s son died en route to the hospital.

I am the other driver. That was my son.

 

I am not here today to tell you those young boys did something wrong or how you should drive. They thought I was a crazy, annoying driver. I was. What seemed like a crazy driver was a father trying to drive quickly and check on his son at the same time. Each time I passed, I turned to check on my son and inevitably slowed down and/or swerved. They could not see the young boy in the back.

 

I am here today to tell you my story. You will make your own meaning from it.

At that, the speaker walked out of the gym. We all sat in stunned silence. No one clapped. No one snickered.

The story is still with me, over 25 years later. I think about that station wagon and panicked father when I encounter erratic drivers. I think about all the things I don’t know about that driver’s story that day. The story has informed both my personality and view on life. I believe I have stronger patience and a slower rush to judgement because of it.

The story is memorable (and was intense at the time of its telling) because of three key aspects:

  1. Its ending was a surprise. I made an assumption in the first few moments of the story that something bad would happen to the teenage boys. I wasn’t alone in thinking the story was headed a different direction.
  2. The storyteller told a story and then walked away. As teenagers, we were used to older speakers lecturing us or telling us the meaning of things.
  3. The storyteller shared the loss of his young son openly, with no finger pointing, blame, or preaching.
Teleportation Considerations

Teleportation Considerations

In the Hyper Tunnel
Experience Music Project, Seattle, 2014

The drive home from Seattle is about six hours. It’s just long enough to have that one fidgety spot. When we approach that spot, I start hearing wishes for teleportation from the backseat.

“Just imagine…. We could be home already.” “We could transport ourselves to the pyramids for a weekend.”

“We could catch March Madness games in different arenas. On the same day.”

Usually I join the “we could” game, but this week I started thinking about the whole country zinging back and forth for March Madness games. We’d need bigger arenas. And the idea of needing bigger arenas led me to ask a lot of questions of my teenage-travelers-turned-quantum-scientists. We ended up talking quite a bit about the societal adjustments that follow an advance in technology, e.g. not wearing Google Glass in public restrooms.

So, out of the mouths of babes, here is a beginning list of considerations about teleportation: Practical Concerns about Teleporting
  • Would travelers experience jet lag?
  • How many people could simultaneously teleport from a single location to a single destination?
  • What happens when everyone wants to go to a warm location at the same time in the winter? Or concerts or sporting events? Will traffic control be required?
  • How would luggage work? Clothes? Jewelry? Prosthetics?
  • What about hackers and glitches? Would teleportation make it easier to be a cat burglar? What if we teleported into a brick wall?
  • Would GIS engineers need to develop more sophisticated three-dimensional coordinate maps to account for multi-story buildings?
Societal and Legal Concerns about Teleporting
  • We would need rules about not teleporting into homes without the owner’s permission. We talked about having an accept process for incoming travelers, similar to what we do now for Bluetooth files and collect phone calls.
  • No teleporting into bathrooms. (This seemed to be an important one for teenage boys. I, on the other hand, thought it would be lovely to teleport to an underutilized bathroom. They’ve never stood in the girls’ line at a stadium.)
  • Would there be a data log of where we transported? How long would it be stored? Who could access the log?
  • How would this change war? If a country could teleport its entire army across the globe in the blink of an eye, that changes things, right?
  • Would passports be sufficient enough for international teleportation travelers?
  • As the technology moves from a station-based teleportation (think airport and air traffic control) to individual devices/portals, what new concerns are discovered?

We only have questions. No answers.


Just so I don’t leave anyone thinking this is a super-serious group of boys, watch this clip that is a perhaps more honest representation of the drive. Somebody invent that teleporter, please.