The power of narrative and role of storytelling in business

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The Fast Company Impact Council, an invitation-only group of corporate leaders, entrepreneurial founders, and other leaders from across industries, gathered on June 30 to share their insights. Members split into small groups, moderated by Fast Company editors, and shared their perspectives on how they are managing and innovating amid a trio of crises: the global pandemic, the economic slowdown, and calls for social justice in the wake of the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery.

In this roundtable discussion, led by senior editor Amy Farley, top executives talked about how companies build narratives that can resonate with consumers and with employees, and how the role of authentic storytelling and honest communication will be a key tenet of business in the decades to come. Participants in this session, in no particular order, were the executive director of MIT Media Lab Deb Roy, Esri CMO Marianna Kantor, Integral Ad Science CEO Lisa Utzschneider, Nextdoor’s head of marketing Maryam Banikarim, McKinsey partner lead on media and tech teams Jonathan Dunn, and cofounder and chief strategy officer of Good Money Andrew Masanto.

Deb Roy: We’re getting good at casting shadows and having machines that can make out contours or shapes of narratives at different scales, and then putting those two together and understanding (and predicting in some cases) how particular audience segments may respond to different forms of narratives, and different choices—all the way down to specific words and phrases that are chosen, all the way up to the emotional contours of an entire video sequences.

One example is leveraging found data. We’ve been doing a lot of work with Twitter, both the fire hose of hundreds of millions of tweets per day and also the network structure, which lets us understand how people are connected. We’ve actually invested a

This new program wants to prepare teens for careers in STEM via science and storytelling

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A new program is looking to prepare teens for careers in STEM.

Rockville, Maryland-based technology and engineering solution provider Acquired Data Solutions (ADS) partnered with Edge of Yesterday Media (EOY Media), a teen time travel novel series curator, to launch the MASTERY program, a virtual learning program teaching young people tech skills via an interactive platform. MASTERY is an acronym that highlights essential skills and topics: mindset, arts, storytelling, technology, economy, economy, reflection and you.

The companies partnered to launch MASTERY following this past summer’s On-Ramps to Careers internship program when they discovered their shared passion for working with young adults preparing to transition from high school to college and eventually full-time jobs, per a press release. ADS hosted 40 students for the internship program and developed a curriculum based on concepts like technology, economics, arts, marketing and socializing for successful career paths.

During the MASTERY program, ADS will bring its engineering expertise to design thinking and building while EOY Media will use storytelling as a vehicle for meaningful learning.

“Now more than ever, it is essential to revitalize our learning process with the hope that the next generation will emerge from this historic pandemic era stronger, more compassionate, and more grounded than before,” said ADS President Steven Seiden in a statement. “The MASTERY program comes at an opportune time when many school plans are up in the air and unclear, to provide parents with a learning approach based in science and story-telling to add substance and sustainability to their children’s educational experiences.”

MASTERY will act as an after-school program and will be run on Zoom. Participating students from ninth through 12th grade will learn things like how interviewing skills and strong communication can strengthen their chances to succeed. Currently, ADS and EOY Media are creating content and are

When Technology And Storytelling Drive Empathy

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This week Lenovo, championed by Girl Up, the gender equality initiative of the United Nations Foundation (UNF), and filmmaker Ava DuVernay, launched New Realities – a project celebrating women through women and technology to showcase and solve global social issues and drive empathy. 

“I was honestly blown away by the stories of these ten young women. I was not sure what to expect, going into this project. Still, I was truly amazed by the power to drive change these women have shown,” said Dilip Bhatia, Lenovo’s Chief Experience Officer during our conversation about New Realities. 

Captured over the last four months using 360-degree storytelling, New Realities records the experience of 10 women in 10 different countries (Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the UK and the US) who are using technology to support a social cause, create thought-provoking art and music or help their community with the services they need the most. 

In addition to providing a platform to these young women, Lenovo – in partnership with Girl Up – funded $100,000 in grants to help them pursue fields of study that align with their goals. The participants also had access to technology from Lenovo, and other resources from ARRAY and Girl Up. The young women received mentorship through a newly created Global Ambassadors Program – featuring mentors hand-selected by Ava DuVernay’s team at ARRAY. “The mentorship was created as part of a vital effort to empower the next generation of women leaders. I applaud each of these young women for sharing their stories with the world through Lenovo’s New Realities. At such a pivotal time in our world’s history, it is imperative

The South China Morning Post reimagined visual storytelling to cover H

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Following the passage of a bill that would allow extradition to mainland China in June 2019, a typically peaceful Hong Kong became the setting of massive pro-democracy protests. Plumes of smoke and tear gas obfuscated neon lights. Police clad in paramilitary gear clashed with protestors in T-shirts, shorts, and makeshift protective gear. The effect was a series of remarkable contrasts. “It was a story made to be told visually,” says Darren Long, head of graphics and magazine design for the South China Morning Post. And yet it was unlike any story his team had told before.

That story, the constant barrage of breaking news, also changed how Long’s team approached news coverage. SCMP’s visual coverage of the Hong Kong protests was incredibly robust, ranging from explainer infographics to in-depth timelines. But when you look at the scope of the SCMP’s graphics as a whole, they offer a big-picture view of the historic protests—and were only possible because the team adopted new ways of working and was able to pivot on the fly. It’s this groundbreaking coverage that won our Innovation by Design Award for Graphic Design.

[Image: South China Morning Post]

SCMP’s coverage of the Hong Kong protests was a learning opportunity for the team, according to Long, and helped prepare them to cover the coronavirus pandemic (just one story of many in this year’s news onslaught, which deputy creative director Adolfo Arranz described as “a rolling storm”). “There wasn’t time to take a breath and look at our projects,” Arranz says, adding that the team didn’t have a cohesive strategy in the very beginning.

Initially, they spent time on the ground, but Long says the time it took for his team to cover the events with infographics—creating illustrations, charts, and graphs, and writing code