For over 27,000 years, since the first cave paintings were discovered, stories have been the most fundamental communication method. A story in its simplest form is a connection of cause and effect. And that is exactly how we think. We think in narratives all day long, whether it’s about our work, buying groceries, or fighting with our partners.
The term “innovation” is used a lot in business, taking on buzzword status. I’ve heard corporate leaders talk about their company’s “culture of innovation” more times than I can count. But what does it mean specifically?
Being able to read has always been a skill that transforms lives, communities and the world. Abraham Lincoln didn’t have more than a year’s worth of formal education, but it was enough to set him on the path to literacy, the first step in his miraculous journey. His father almost certainly couldn’t read, so imagine if Abe followed in his father’s well-worn footsteps?
Every Tuesday I look forward to the New York Times’s weekly section on science. But a recent edition stopped me cold, because it pointed to some serious communication challenges about our understanding of health and disease.
Metaphors matter. In a study of women who were about to give birth, the mothers-to-be were told to expect a local anesthesia before receiving an epidural. Nurses told one group they were going to get “a local anesthetic that will numb the area so you will be comfortable during the procedure.” Another group was told, “You are going to feel a big bee sting; this is the worst part of the procedure.” Not surprisingly, the group that heard the “bee sting” comment perceived significantly greater pain.
If every product change or new idea is amazing, epic, and disruptive, what happens when something really significant takes place? Yes, iTunes truly disrupted the music business… but how often do these kinds of revolutions really come along?