i. Once a Meta-storyⓒ is created, many different development and execution teams will become involved. This means there are a lot of “stakeholders” for the content and the ensuing specific media development.
ii. Creating true and excellent “SINGULARITY OF VISION” is one of the most significant challenges in the Meta-story creation and development process. Who owns the creative and strategic decision-making and control for a story that has to perform well in so many different categories? This question is critical to resolve at the onset of the Meta-storyⓒ process to avoid a kind of stakeholder revolt. Remember, that Meta-storyⓒ thinking, let alone the process itself, is very new. Media and product groups and companies all have long histories of operating independently with well worn behavioral tracks and cultures that arise from long histories shaped by what has worked up till now.
iii. Wanting total control of the IP development is natural, when your company, media group, product group, or function, is creatively and commercially responsible for the bottom line performance of any “product” delivered by your category (P&L). Imagine, however, 10 groups or companies, all wanting that same control, all sitting in a room eager to have the Meta-story work done but all having equal voice. The result is “CONSENSUS CREATIVE”, a concept that makes meetings comfortable but is disastrous for the Meta-storyⓒ.
iv. Consider this: Though you'll find this statement in many other places on this blog, it is especially important here. There is virtually NO big, worldwide, meaningful story that was created by a roomful of people all deciding what can be in that story through consensus. I’ve found companies that believe they can do that, but in all cases, there is always a single person (or a small, proven, team), with enough influence and skill, within whom the central vision is usually created and always managed. Execution, an interpretive art, is quite different in that large numbers of people need to be engaged and aligned to bring additive creative and commercial ideas to the table, but even here, this always works best under good central creative and commercial leadership.
v. For this reason, it is critical to have a single person, a single “CREATOR” or “VISION LEADER” with the right skills (more on this in future posts) and informed by quality, multiple stakeholder information streams, who directs and shapes the Meta-storyⓒ and, when possible, becomes the ongoing “GO TO PERSON” for creative direction as the Meta-storyⓒ moves into other media and product expressions. If that person is a talented creator trained in story structuring, they can learn the broader art and craft of Meta-storyⓒ with the right understanding of how it works.
vi. VISION LEADERS broadly interact across the media spectrum, but don’t actually shape all the narrative for all the different media. There are most likely excellent creatives and strategics in each of those businesses that know how to successfully translate and add to the Meta-storyⓒ to make it the best it can be in each of those formats. Instead, the role of the VISION LEADER during roll out of the Meta-story is to communicate “VECTORS”, “STORY SPINE”, “CRITICAL CONTEXT” and any Meta-story guidance that insures alignment and consistency while encouraging maximum growth and innovation.
b. A word about magic:
i. I’ve heard it called “lightning in a bottle” or “Story telling Magic.” Stories that really work well to capture the hearts and minds of their audience with true, relevant, meaning and empowerment are rare. This is because it’s extraordinarily hard to really create something that works on all the levels it needs to in order to become a member of that exclusive club. It’s a craft and an art that takes real talent, training and experience to work. With Stories, especially Meta-storiesⓒ, it’s also a process that takes time, care, advocacy and voice.
ii. One of the primary reasons for pursuing Meta-storyⓒ development is the tremendous commercial result that it can deliver. Much of the 25 years plus I’ve spent learning the broad skills to develop this process has been in search of delivering success. Across all the different media and formats, the one thing that has remained a powerful constant and truth is “IT MUST BE A GREAT STORY!” Unfortunately, it’s easy to miss that mark if the core skills and culture of the group that is controlling the development isn’t deeply rooted in the storyteller’s art. This can mean stepping outside our comfort zone and reaching outside our own organizations to bring in those competencies and processes. It’s well worth it.
iii. For this reason, it’s incumbent on those of us who are doing this work to keep the art and craft of storytelling front and center as the smelter into which we will put all the other precious metals we will be given by stakeholders.
iv. If we want the story-tellers art to continue evolving without devolving into fleeting commercial artifice, then we need to recognize all that is involved in telling stories on this bigger canvas and trade respect on all sides of the equation in order to achieve excellence:
1. Respect for the stakeholders needs, knowledge and voice in the process.
2. Respect for the Meta-storyⓒ creator’s and Vision Leader’s role and knowledge in being charged with shaping and balancing all this new and complex input into a singular expression of excellence.
3. Respect for the audience by recognizing that we are in their service and making stories for them is pouring ideas into the soup we all swim in.
4. Quote: “The health of a society is measured by the quality of the stories they tell themselves.” I believe this was Plato but please correct me if you know otherwise.
v. Meta-storyⓒ is about creating profound commercial success that comes as a result of creating true human meaning and value delivered in empowering, playful and authentically engaging ways. In a Meta-storyⓒ, you can’t separate the two aspects.
Great art and great commerce. Both have to achieve excellence.