Thursday, 29 August 2013

Telling Tech Tales...What's the EdTech Story?


"Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin..." is the only one way to start this weeks post.

I realise that this reference will be lost entirely on the younger generation and any non-UK followers, this is from a kids TV show when I was young called "Listen with Mother" and this weeks' 
post is all about story telling.

How important is getting to grips with story telling in business? According to Shane Snow It will be the #1 skill in the next 5 years, and I tend to agree with him.

I would not know where to begin with this this in demand skill if it were not for Hubspot, who had their Inbound Marketing conference recently or for Bill Aulet, who has a new book on "Disciplined Entrepreneurship."

I have also just finished my most challenging project involving, what I hope is, the creation of good, relevant content. All of which has led me to reflect on my endeavours to get to grips with the art of story telling.


Day 1 - Culture Starts
I remember reading an article about the culture at Hewlett Packard and, when asked a question about their policy about looking after staff and they said something along the lines of; 

"We just decided from day one to look after our staff" and added "You're corporate culture starts on day 1"... you can't get to a certain size and then say "OK what's our culture" 

An organisations' culture will develops in a vacuum if its not carefully cultivated. So after reading some great books I realised  that culture starts on day 1 and a vital part of your culture is to have a good story to tell. The concept of good story telling is how the Te@ch Stories logo evolved.
"Our priority is company culture, and our belief is that is we get the culture right, most of the other stuff - such as delivering great customer service or building an enduring brand or business - will happen as a natural by product of our culture. It all goes back to our belief that, in the long term, a company's brand and culture are really two sides of the same coin" Tony Hsieh in the introduction of Tribal Leadership

When Lou Gerstner was commenting on his time as IBM CEO, when he was turning the fortunes of the company around he said;


“I came to see, in my time at IBM, that culture isn’t just one aspect of the game – it is the game.” 

Great Content. Great Products
I want engage with educators in a way that is welcome and will add value to their work. In order to achieve this on a sustainable, long term basis I feel that two things are vital;

1) Provide good, relevant and useful information... creating good content is vital
2) Having great products - Which requires the ability to articulate your vision in early stage development and the benefits of the product when its ready for roll out 

When you read books by Dan and Chip Heath, Brian Halligan, Geoffery Moore, Nancy Duarte and Bill Aulet you are never quite the same again (Never mind edtech sales... I should be in book sales the number of books I recommend on this blog! - Note to self speak to Ken Royal once I finish this post).

All these books have had a profound effect on me and led to the creation of Tech Story which was a direct result of reading about the importance of creating good content, and writing in a way that makes your ideas and concepts tell a story so that it "sticks"

Whats in a Name - What's the Tech Story? 
The Tech Story article was praised by those that read it and I liked how the logo looked, so developed it a little further. The reasons I ended up opting for Te@ch Stories for my Twitter account and Blog was for a number of reasons. Every time I see the Teach stories logo;
  • The Font and colour reminds me that I want to help bring technology in education to life, that any tech project I work on should have a compelling story.
  • The @ reminds me that but it's not a tech story - this is not tech for the sake of tech
Its the  not the !!Reminds me that the te@ch should be an epic adventure and bring learning to life
  • The way you present your ideas is so important! To give your idea the best chance you need to have a compelling story.

    You need to convey to your audience that you are aware of the issues and care about finding a solution in an interesting and  memorable way... at the very least that you should respect your audience enough not to waste their time or bore them with "death by power point!"

  •  Another aspect of this logo are the bright colours, this is designed to remind me that;

    1) 
     The priority with the tech is that they are great toys that make learning fun

    2) That the logo is Fun... Just because its work doesn't mean that it can't be fun! Why go to work when you can go to fun?!
Nancy Duarte encourages us to deliver great presentations,  Shane Snow, Hubspot and MIT Sloan highlight the value of great story telling and Steve Jobs advises simplicity.

"In a meeting about MacIntoch support documentation, someone said that the industry standard was that user manuals should be written at 12th grade reading ability level. Steve Jobs replied "No. It should be written at 1st grade level...maybe we should get a 1st grader to write it" he added manual comment."
The Steve Jobs Way

The way you convey your idea or  vision regarding a new product/idea/solution can be as important to the products success, and can matter as much the products functionality. David Ogilvy has a great statement to remind us of how to think about our customers with marketing campaigns;

"The consumer is not an idiot. she is your wife… your friends and family” 
David Ogilvy 


Being succinct, compelling and keeping it simple are areas that most people would benefit from and, personally,  I look forward to the day that I successfully put Nancy Duarte's advice into action!

Writers Block!
I am about to publish my latest report "Technology in Education - Algorithms and Relationships" which looks at the importance of the educator-EdTech supplier relationship which, believe it or not highlights the importance of sales people... It would appear that Edtech salesmen are not dead; but they do need to evolve to avoid extinction! 

This EdTech report has taken almost a year to pull together and the main reason for this is because the report is designed to appeal to different groups, and finding the right reference material, structure and content that would have the potential to be compelling to all stakeholders was extremely challenging.

But through this content it looks like it has paid off immediately as I may have the opportunity to produce a video for the report in the style of Sir Ken's Shifting Paradigms, which is a great way make ideas stick.  

Bringing Stories to Life
While I know that I want my presentations and content to be as compelling as the ones that Duarte showcases, you're not always sure about how you are doing.

But one thing that I do know is that I would never have had the confidence to try without Dan & Chip Heath's book to highlight the value of trying as well as a practical "how to guide." 
It's perhaps not surprising that a book about making your idea's memorable has you hooked after 2 pages.

"Made to Stick"  opens by asking you to recall details of a, the Kidney heist, which is about a page long and information from a 6 sentence corporate jargon.

The first story is vivid and has the concepts that make a great story - simple, unexpected, concrete, credible and emotional. The second is uninspiring corporate mumbo jumbo jargon.

The Master Tech Story Teller
For anyone who wants to see the delivery and results of a great story teller who creates great products - how to bring your ideas and technology to life, then there is no better example than Steve Jobs....and I'll leave you in the capable hands of Nancy Duarte who will tell you about the secret structure behind Steve Jobs presentations and other great talks.



In the event that you like my blog/reports and would like to explore this skill that will be in demand within the next 5 years then my recommendation would Go out and get; 

Disciplined Entreprenuership - Bill Aulet, 
Made to Stick - Dan & Chip Heath 
Slide:Ology - Nancy Duarte 
Inbound Marketing - Brian Halligan 

If you don't like the content I produce then at least I've got another 4 years to hone these skills. Like the development of the logo I have a little time to improve and get it right... but with my Te@ch Stories logo I'm unlikely to how important this task is to the culture I want to establish.



I'm not sure if I'll have an idea that will change the world... but if I get it right I may have one that makes a difference in Edtech.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and knowledge on this topic. This is really helpful and informative, as this gave me more insight to create more ideas and solutions for my plan. I would love to see more updates from you.

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