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Storytelling for Swans

Do you own your story? How do you use it? How can storytelling deliver strength?

I’ll return to Nassim Nicholas Taleb and the Black Swan, the Impact of the Highly Improbable.

Context: Why is Storytelling Important?

Truly, it is difficult to disconnect personal interest when scanning over a problem? Students of design and innovation are challenged to take on this endeavor. It demands a lot from the individual. One must be willing to suspend ego to apply empathy. Why? Because otherwise, we use volumes of our own personal bias to reason and perceive the conditions of our analysis. Problems are not monolithic because our lived experience is diverse. We fall into grave error traps when we begin generating solutions from this starting point.

That’s where we come in. Acorders sees storytelling as serving a transformative purpose for suspending the ego. The storyteller for impact builds out a richer, more vivid perception. If suspending ego for problem analysis and generating solutions is hard enough for the individual, imagine how challenging it becomes when people try to collaborate, create and deliver impact together.

Meeting the Future

I wrote last about Taleb's depictions of two worlds. One seemingly, pre-digital and the other post-digital. Taleb recognizes how observing and discerning world conditions through the naked eye becomes increasingly challenging as we progress towards “Extremistan”, (the post-digital). In short, our world is increasingly more complex. Taleb cautions us that narrowing perspective exposes us to liabilities befalling highly improbable, unimaginable, or unperceived events. Designers, innovators, and problem-solvers, certainly have their work cut out for them in this coming age.

Taleb observes the power of the dominant narrative to cut down the diversity of thought by narrowing perspectives. His example of field journalists and their deftness to conform their synthesis of thought on current events is seemingly benign. It is very natural and easy to fall into “group think”. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, but then we also see the perverse nature of malignant personalities that exploit this.

The basic strategy supplants one's own reason and logic over another. A few of their tactics include convincing people that their feelings are a source of weakness or that their intuition has no value. So is there a compounding effect from all of this? Many historical examples played out in “Mediocristan” (the pre-digital), led to crashes of value in the economy and destruction of life. Taleb is apt to point out the vulnerability of narrowing perspectives and how this weakness is exacerbated with the complexity we find as we progress towards “Extremistan” (the post-digital). It is paramount to offer aid to our designers, innovators, and problem-solvers as they embark. Reclaim your own narrative so that it can be lifted up for a richer depth of understanding.

“You need a story to displace a story. Metaphors and stories are far more potent (alas) than ideas; they are also easier to remember and more fun to read. If I have to go after what I call the narrative disciplines, my best tool is a narrative. Ideas come and go, stories stay.”

Taleb, Nassim Nicholas. The Black Swan: Second Edition: The Impact of the Highly Improbable (Incerto). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Acorders sees a world in peril, demanding all creative options rather than solutions that serve narrow interests. We are using storytelling to create impact with innovation. We need storytellers to offer unique perspectives for problem analysis and generating solutions. We need balanced minds with aligned operating spheres strategizing on value delivery. What happens when our cartilage hardens around our joints? Our skeleton becomes weak.

  • Fight off rigidity by telling your story with us. Use it to strengthen yourself and build up others around you.

  • Avoid the trappings and circular logic of all-consuming dominant narratives.

What We Do

We use storytelling to imagine, conceptualize and begin to perceive the true nature of complexity in our lived experience. We can then expand our capacity to channel conscientious respondence in the pursuit of elegant and simple solutions. Designers, Innovators, and problem solvers who work with this body of knowledge can cast a wider net when producing and delivering solutions we all need.

Join our community and participate in the design process with us. Acorders is building a digital experience for storytellers of impact. Taleb’s swans are the impact of the highly improbable, unimaginable. They soar from places that many of us look past. Are you capable of hatching a swan that can deliver desired impact instead of value destruction?

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1 Comment

Charlie Grantham
Charlie Grantham
Mar 02, 2022

Two thumbs up.

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