Session Tasks

Larry McEnerney argues that people read for a value exchange. And that value isn’t an incremental unit of knowledge. It’s an element of something that’s going to help create a paradigm shift. A la Kuhn.

Not all writing is brilliant. And not all writing has to be brilliant. To understand this better we have to understand the contract around a piece of text. Is it like a parking ticket where the less clear it is, the more revenue the council receives?

How readable is your text? Try this bot which assesses the readabilty score. For security you might want to change names and numbers.

A value exchange is about attention for ideas that have value. Why would you read through a document about packet switching? Because Sir Tim Berner’s Lee’s writing could tell you things that changed what you did the next morning.

There’s the conversation about a topic and the notes on the conversation. The notes won’t necessarily make any sense to the people who weren’t party to the conversation. But sometimes the notes get passed upwards as a ‘report’, and herein lies the source of some problems. What do those notes actually mean?

A look at our texts. Too confidential to download here, we’ll email them as necessary.

How readable is your text? Try this bot which assesses the readabilty score. For security you might want to change names and numbers.

Communication and change of state or status. This piece of footage shows a rich sequence of these elements in a 5 minute zero to hero sequence that got a million hits. It tells us a lot about the relation between story and change.

Prints on the Gun exercise. Group investigation into the motor of writing. We take a piece of writing from a typical detective situation and ask how persuasion is operating in terms of beats. These are fundamental story units that are found everywhere. You can download some table material from this link.

The once upon a time exercise to see what happens in the kingdom. This exercise is about feeling our way to the critical ingredients of a super simple story.

You’re a hygiene and quality inspector who’s visiting their old school. Can you write a report about your school food? Does it pass the basic hygiene tests? Maybe, maybe not. What about the quality of the food? And maybe there’s an insight that belongs in there too.

The hotel letter you wrote. What does it tell us about what works when we’re the other side of our own writing? What works, and what doesn’t?It may be the first time you’ve read your work as a competitor to others on exactly the same brief.

Reading out pure drivel is interesting. We read this text out aloud while standing up. We sit down when we’ve had enough then we ask the question: when and why do we give up reading? This exercise shows how a logic or flow glitch sheds readers like a leaky pipe. You can use this tool to fix any script.

Harvard Business Review charges a princely £20 per copy. But read an article and you’ll see why the quality of writing justifies this. Here’s an article on collaboration or how it sometimes never happens, despite the best efforts of senior management. Note how the problem is fully developed before the story moves on.

What’s the difference between an observation and an insight? Mr Rush frequently drives over 120 mph is an observation, but what would the insight be?

Mr Rush seems to drive fast because he lacks excitement in his life? The insight gives you access to action around the issue. Maybe getting Mr Rush some other forms of excitement.

Mr White, a la Breaking Bad, narrated in super simple storyline. Complete with predicament, dilemma, and character arc. It shows us how clear storytelling can be.

Martin Luther King’s 1963 speech here in an abridged form shows some of the key beats of a great piece of writing. From fact to inspiring principle; it also shows how to manage conflicting interests by finding the largest common denominator.

Winston Churchill’s finest hour speech is a masterclass in structure. Probably the most famous speech in the English language it shows the power of going taking an idea to its logical conclusion.

Two presidents, two inaugural speeches, in the early mid section where the pain problem or situation gets developed. Can you guess who did which on? Spoiler alert: don’t watch the  Video if you’ve not done the problem. What does this tell us about quality as opposed to what we think is quality?

Working with really simple types helps gets things clear. We do a lot of this on the course. Reducing complex multi-stakeholder interests to one dimension makes things much simpler and doable.

You’re the driving instructor of a Mr Man who for some reason has to re-qualify to pass his driving test. Can you use the structure we’ve been developing to help write a succinct coherent report? Worked example

Stephen Hawking’s book sold more copies than the bible, 9 million copies in forty languages. And yet the subject matter is to say the least quite complex. His gift is that he’s trying to help you understand, not to bamboozle you. His opening story demonstrates how the entire theme of the book can be summarised and illustrated in a single child like story.

This paper on the development of graphene shows that no matter how technical, structure keeps things approachable, at least in a few places. Especially the end for the big finale.

Some brands have a clear consistent voice, and then there are all the others than merge into a great nothingness. How do brands connect with us as human beings and why are they so powerful? We look at the fundamental jungian archetypes and practice working with them.

What makes big ideas? Time for a quick look at creativity as a thing in itself. Finally if you’re working on a project, we can arrange an Skype call two weeks later, and see how you’re getting on with putting everything into practice.

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