Decoding Tomorrow:
Futurism and Foresights Today

Foresights and ideas that expand minds and inspire a change of heart.

The Art and Science of Transformational Story

15 Sep 2020

The future is not what it used to be. Old wisdom, dull management proverbs and linear models don't accurately describe where we are headed, or where we find ourselves today. We are passively staring into the future yet seem to have collective writer's block when it comes to penning a more humane narrative for our future. 

Strategy is story. It is a science fiction fable of how to transform from a current state to a future state. It is in some ways an organisational variant of Joseph Campbell's transformational 'Hero's Journey'. Yet, the leadership stories of late have failed to capture our imaginations or suspend our disbelief that we can get out of this COVID19-mess. We need to hear novel and transformational tales from leaders and brands today that will help energise us and build a bridge from where we are today to where we want to be in the future.

As I mentioned in this interview at the MiSK Media Forum in Saudi Arabia, the good news is that there is both an Art & a Science to designing captive stories (and strategies).

Just like my son, Lucien, craves storytime every evening and willingly answers the call to cross the threshold to an extraordinary world of villains, caves, dragons, mentors and heroes, so us adults need to have our hearts and minds enchanted by the stories of visionary leaders and brands who help us answer our own personal call to adventure.



I grew up as an adventure and science fiction movie nerd. Compelling narratives and storylines have always enraptured me. When beautifully designed, narrative arcs have a subconscious cadence and structure to them. Whether you are watching a TED-talk, a Harry Potter movie, or tuning into a Star Wars epic, you are embarking on an odyssey that has been carefully designed by a strategic mind. Joseph Campbell codified the common structure of narrative in his concept of the 'Hero's Journey'.

Futurist Anders Sorman-Nilsson Hero's Journey Wheel

As a futurist, I am essentially a science fiction author (with different media / formats at my disposal), and I have found Campbell's structure extremely helpful to designing both keynotes, strategy workshops and even books - to ensure we win both digital minds and analogue hearts.

Digital Minds Analogue Hearts Futurist Anders Sorman-Nilsson


In Seamless: a hero's journey of digital disruption, adaptation and human transformation (Wiley, 2017), I use the concept to map my mum's transformation journey in moving from an ordinary world of analogue old school retail to an extraordinary world of digital retail for example.


Screen Shot 2020-09-16 at 6.36.03 am


Now, for those of you who have followed the raw narrative of Georg Sorman (including in this Wall Street Journal article), you will know mum's final chapters and her story of digital disruption, adaptation and (part) transformation.

If you are not yet up to speed on her odyssey and "chapter progression" in the odyssey that is life, check out this Corona-blog.

Let me give you a hint and say that 'culture eats strategy for breakfast'... Sometimes case studies (or case stories as they should be called) and strategies don't work out perfectly, and what I and other leaders need to ask themselves are whether the narratives we co-designed and the stories we shared with our teams truly enchanted our stakeholders' hearts and minds - on every level. We all need to go back to the drawing tables at times - which is why Joseph Campbell's 12-step progression is so useful for any leader or brand seeking to re-imagine and create the future. 


Analogue to Digital Migration Seamless Anders Sorman-Nilsson


In the pandemic we are all living through now, we could no doubt all do with some help shifting from the ordinary world to the extraordinary world! In fact, we have all been forced to migrate from the ordinary analogue world to the extraordinary digital / virtual world. When our analogue hearts are no longer free to roam around, our digital minds have still been able to connect however! Despite this, there is a void to fill of how we get from where we are now to where we need to be.

What is your science fiction or brand story that will help your audience / team move from its current state of inertia to believing in and executing on a better vision for the future?

Psychologists use the concept of the 'hero's journey' in counselling, and at Thinque we use it for organisational transformation, brand strategy development and in our executive coaching for leaders... feel free to reach out to see how we can help in your strategy development, presentation coaching, and brand amplification. 



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