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Flag Flap

By Mike Bonifer 12 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.

Categories:
  Customers & Communities, Diversity, Game
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About

 Mike Bonifer

  (57 articles)

Mike Bonifer is the founder and Chief Storyteller for bigSTORY, a network of experts in diverse fields who specialize in effective communication and draw on breakthrough research that accounts for how stories affect business performance. We call our process Agile Storytelling. We apply it to help clients improve their communication processes, make more meaningful connections with audiences, drive customer advocacy and engage employees. Bonifer has been focused on new storytelling platforms and practices for his entire life, from the theme park his family built on the farm where he grew up in Indiana, through a long association with the Walt Disney Company, to bigSTORY’s contemporary work with Skype, Wipro, Manulife, United Airlines, and a host of mid-sized companies, and universities such as USC, Notre Dame and NYU. He has written five books on the subject of storytelling, most recently GameChangers—Improvisation for Business in the Networked World, and CTRL Shift—50 Games for 50 ****ing Days Like Today. In addition to its consulting work, bigSTORY develops and produces original stories. We are currently developing Death of Cassini, an opera about the last days of NASA’s Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn, and Crypto Kid, a television series about Tinashe Nyatanga, a Zimbabwean hip-hop music editor living in Los Angeles who advises young music and entertainment stars on their cryptocurrency investments. The basis of all our work is a belief that our most optimistic futures are realized when we build stories together. When your story and my story become our story.