A New Role for Storytellers?

On April 14th, 2011 UX Magazine published an article by Sarah Doody entitled "Why We Need Storytellers at the Heart of Product Development."

According to Ms. Doody, "The challenge today is that we face a shortage of storytellers because our current organizational structures and cultures are not optimized for the activities involved in storytelling." That's a problem because: "Before a technologist writes a line of code, or a marketer writes a line of copy, or a designer creates a single wireframe or design, you have to establish the story that your product is going to tell."

"A product is more than an idea, it's more than a website, and it's more than a transaction or list of functionalities. A product should provide an experience or service that adds value to someone's life through fulfilling a need or satisfying a desire. The ultimate question then becomes: who identifies that value? After the executive or stakeholder identifies the initial idea, who in the organization ensures that the product and experience deliver value to the user? Maybe it isn't the product manager, marketer, technologist, or designer; perhaps what we need is a new role: the product storyteller."

"A product storyteller should be positioned in the company to help break down the walls between all groups, facilitate the development of a single story, foster collaboration between groups, and ensure that every interaction a consumer has with a product or brand maps back to that story."

Ms. Doody goes on to cite Daniel Pink's 2006 book, A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule The Future, in which Mr. Pink writes:

"We've progressed from a society of farmers to a society of factory workers to a society of knowledge workers. And now we're progressing yet again—to a society of creators and empathizers, of pattern recognizers and meaning makers. We've moved from an economy built on people's backs to an economy built on people's left-brains to what is emerging today: an economy and society built more and more on people's right-brains."

According to Mr. Pink, "right-brain" thinkers are storytellers.

Questions: Are today's film school students being prepared for this New World? Are we training right-brain thinkers? Or are film students spending too much time focused on execution and not enough on story?

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