Tackling particularly stubborn problems through behaviours and narratology
Today’s business strategy, marketing and communication design problems can be pretty damn complicated.
I solve particularly stubborn ones by applying lots of funky principles, mainly drawn from social practice theory and narratology.
What is social practice?
Social practice is all about understanding behaviours. It’s an interdisciplinary field that looks at how people interact with media, games, technology, and so on, and uncovers the the real-world actions those interactions lead to.
So what is narratology?
If social practice focuses on behaviours, then narratives are the pathways that offer a guiding path for those very behaviours we wish to change.
Narratology is the study of narratives and narrative structures, and the ways that these affect our perception.
Narrative shapes and forms are embedded deep within our workplace, our culture, art and music. They’ve been written about for years but, rarely ever applied to today’s problems. Which seems weird to me.
Unlocking and applying these narrative models gives us a powerful strategic framework upon which to solve our problems, and build our stories. This helps both design more powerful strategy, and stronger communications.
Three principles for designing more powerful strategy and communication
If you want to design great strategy or marketing/communication today, here’s some tips:
- Acknowledge that people have Agency
People today have more freedom of choice than ever before. Today’s empowered individual consumers cannot be bullied by old mass tactics. Acknowledging that they have full and complete agency is the key to gaining true behavioural insights.
- Acknowledge that Networks drive Individuals
The rise of communities and networks has shifted decision-making towards a more collective self-regulating model. Segment not only by personas, but also by behavioural roles within those groups.
- Acknowledge that all Interactions are Ritualised
There is no ‘on’ and ‘off’-line anymore. Online interactions are simply the things we do every day – in real-life. Stop thinking ‘digital’, start thinking ritual.
Reading on social practice and business
Check down below for some great cases on social practice as applied to business. As for narratology, I’ll leave that for another time.
Social practice applied to business
- Organisational communication and strategy
- Value creation in service logic
- Value creation and proposition in marketing theory
- Preferences in Fairtrade goods
- Dealing with dysfunctional customer behaviour in customer service
- Middle management and sense-making in corporate social initiatives