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The Illusion of Speed

By Mike Bonifer 5 years ago
Home  /  Marketability  /  The Illusion of Speed

When improvisers performing onstage, athletes on a field of play, or writers building fictional worlds experience a shift in their perception of time, they talk about being in the flow. When this happens, their perception of time changes. They talk about time slowing down, or of not having any perception of clock time whatsoever. Writers get lost in the worlds they are seeing. A performance that lasts half an hour will seem over in three minutes. A play that takes five seconds off the game clock will seem like fifty seconds to a hyper-focused player. People in automobile accidents often talk about perceiving them in slow motion. In these situations, the mind is so locked into the local, the immediate, completely invested in being 100% present, that we experience the spacetime curve, a different kind of time. Einstein famously described these differences in perception of time as “When you sit on a hot stove, a minute will feel like an hour. Sit with a beautiful woman and an hour will feel like a minute.”

One of the benefits of bigSTORY is that it helps create a tempo, and tempo is a key to producing a flow state. Stories, after all, have beats. And those beats depend on a good tempo. Dramatic pauses. Emotional lifts. Steady builds. Every story demands a different tempo. Venkatesh Rao has written an excellent book about tempo and flow states. It’s called Tempo. Some management experts like Tom Peters and John Nelson (a former rock band drummer!) believe that setting and maintaining tempo is one of the most important skills a manager can have.

Here, imho, is one of the biggest business benefits of good tempo: To the marketplace, and to your competition, it will look like you are moving at the speed of thought. Humming in tune with every network that matters. This is an illusion. Improvisers call it “the illusion of speed.” To your audience, it looks like you’re working lightning quick, but to those of you bringing the story to life, it seems as if you are simply in sync with one another’s intentions. You find a rhythm. A groove. And what makes it groovy is your shared sense of story.

  Marketability, Organizational Effectiveness, Process, Story Organization
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 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.