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Flag Flap

By Mike Bonifer 10 months ago
Home  /  Customers & Communities  /  Flag Flap

Storytelling Twists Dept:

The Washington Post ran a story this week about how a celebration of diversity in Rockville, MD, in prosperous, multi-cultured Montgomery County, did not go as city officials planned.

City officials decided to festoon their streets with flags representing the native countries of the city’s immigrant population, alongside American flags.

Even the best-intentioned stories can produce shitty outcomes.

Iraqi war Veterans in Rockville are disturbed.

Iraqi-Americans are confused.

Vietnamese-Americans are traumatized.

And Rockville’s getting negative press. Probably the last thing they expected when they designed the campaign.

There are two identifiable flaws, probably more lurking, in the design of Rockville’s flag game — what we call a ‘story engine’:

  1. Rockville city officials apparently didn’t give enough equity to the people in the community in the design of the game;
  2. They dropped some of the most potent meta language there is [flags] into story fields that are charged with painful histories many citizens of Montgomery County would like to forget.

These are fundamental mistakes in organizational storytelling that we see all the time. In our experience, they can usually be remedied, or at least outcomes improved, with better designs for a group’s storytelling process. When more people can participate in the telling of a story, more people will buy into and benefit from how the story turns out.

  Customers & Communities, Diversity, Game
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 Mike Bonifer

  (57 articles)

Mike Bonifer is the co-founder and Chief Creative Officer for bigSTORY, a company of strategists & practitioners who are first in the world to utilize quantum storytelling, an emerging organizational science that accounts for how stories are created, live in networks, and influence behaviors. Throughout his professional life, Bonifer has been in the forefront of emerging storytelling practices and technologies. As the publicist on Tron, the author of The Art of Tron, and the writer and producer of Computers are People, Too, he explained computer-generated imagery to the analog world. As a founding producer of The Disney Channel, he pioneered the Walt Disney Company’s entrance into cable television with the legendary documentary series, Disney Family Album. As the producer of the award-winning website for Toy Story, he introduced movie fans around the world to Pixar’s extraordinary storytelling. He co-founded Network LIVE, which lives on as Control Room, producer of some of the biggest online music events in the world, including 2007’s Live Earth concerts for the environment, for which he served as Chief Storyteller. In 2007, he wrote and published GameChangers – Improvisation for Business in the Networked World, and, with Dr. Virginia Kuhn of USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, co-founded GameChangers, a learning company that applied improvisation to business communication. His work with GameChangers dramatically improved the performances in units of companies such as Skype, Gap Inc. The Walt Disney Company, United Airlines Media, Gawker Media, NetApp and GE. He has conducted university workshops in Public Health, Entrepreneurship, Engineering, Sociology and Cinema; collaborated with Alan Alda on a workshop for the Viterbi School of Engineering at USC; explained quantum storytelling to physicists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; coached Ron “The Gangster Gardener” Finley on his famous TED Talk on urban gardening; and returned to his old hometown in Indiana, to tell stories about the legendary smalltown Hoosier baskeball team, his childhood heroes,The Ireland Spuds. He was the featured storyteller at the 2014 San Miguel International Storytelling Festival in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. He and his son, Alex, perform a two-person improv act called BonBon, the only father-son comedy improv act in the world (that they know of). In 2015, he will tour Panama, Guatemala and Nicaragua on behalf of the Notre Dame Executive Education program. With bigSTORY, Bonifer and Jeremi Karnell have created a home for one of the most remarkable advances in storytelling of our lifetimes. A way of seeing the world through the lens of the stories we create together. A theory that accounts for the brilliant possibilities that await us when your story and my story become our story.