More on Storytelling

Picked up the Matrix Reloaded DVD yesterday. Didn’t have time to watch the movie (that’s OK – I’ve seen it already), but I did have time to check out some of the extras. Unfortunately, the quantity of extras leaves something to be desired, but the quality is pretty good. My favorite is the breakdown of how they prep’ed for and executed the huge (I should say HUGE, since the budget and time required for this one sequence probably rivals most full movies) freeway chase. As with any good story, they talked about what they were trying to do, how they set out about doing it, the challenges along the way and how they overcame those challenges. What struck me while watching this, though, was the fact that this story was not told in retrospect – as in, “This is what we wanted to do, this is what we did, etc.” – but as the story developed.

If you are at all familiar with DVDs today, you know that these making of features are pretty much expected, especially for big movies like the Matrix or Lord of the Rings. In the early days of DVD, before this caught on, many of the making ofs were somewhat retrospective. And if you look at new, special-edition releases of older movies, they’ve gone back to create these featurettes because they know that is what people want.

But today, making the making-ofs is as much a part of making the actual movie as any other part, again especially for big movies that are doing things that have never been done. Obviously, some movies don’t lend themselves to a making-of featurette. Romantic comedies, for instance, are enjoyable to watch but very rarely have anything so new and cool in terms of film-making that make a making of worth making (or watching).

And this leads me (finally) to my point(s):

When considering story-telling as a component of your knowledge management or organizational learning strategy, are you looking at it primarily from a retrospective viewpoint (“Wow, this project worked out pretty good, we should tell the story to others so they can learn”) or do you plan to tell the story from the beginning (“Well, we don’t know how this is going to work out, but we’ve never done anything like this before so we should document it as we go so we can share with others”)?

Do you consider the value of the story you are going to tell in terms of uniqueness of the event? IOW, do you bother trying to tell stories of things that have been done before, or do you focus on the new things that can bring value and competitive advantage?

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