by Daniele Zambelli
President and Creative Director, Simmetrico Network
Storytelling is a word that is much abused and most often misunderstood.
Ignorance in using this term and the misrepresentation of its value have led to theorizing the death of storytelling and to inventing interpretations that seem to have been generated by a marketing mind interested more in form than in the substance of things.
Storytelling cannot die. Sharing stories makes man the most evolved being on this planet, and it enables our species to grow, transform and evolve: it allows us to aspire.
Telling stories is a means for sharing, it is the shared anticipation that allows us to “aspire together” and engage in an endeavour.
It is an anthropological need: tribes would gather around a fire and tell stories; the stories about hunting, about the great carnivorous predators, the forces of nature gradually became stories about myth. The chief would lead the venture of the day, but at night, when darkness would envelope hearts with the primordial fear of the unknown, it was the shaman who would hypnotize the minds with stories that exorcised the fear of the beast hidden in the darkness. The fire would warm their bodies, and the story would turn fear into courage uniting the community into a common purpose. This way, next day’s hunting would have certainly been a success.
Civilization was born with storytelling. Writing and art turned storytelling into representation, and representation is much more than the mere reading of reality, it tells about man’s expressive potential that is present in reality: possibility.
As in the past, today, storytelling has the same role: telling stories is the only means for interpreting society and for bringing people together, for sharing a space of action that enhances differences and that presents new answers in a growingly complex world where fear and uncertainty confuse our priorities. Our age is characterized by short-lived and contrasting changes that we have to deal with, and this generates two types of stories: On the one hand, stories that build up fences so that we may seek refuge in things we are familiar with, our comfort zone, where identity gets confused with fear and we prevent ourselves from being interactive, from being challenged with new things and from sharing. A false feeling of safety that makes us prisoners of ourselves and of our memories.
On the other hand, the other stories, those that integrate our identity and our roots with the complex questions that the modern world puts to us.
These stories drive us towards the world in search of interaction and relationship with diversity, and they urge us to overcome the fear of embracing novelties, the unknown and the future.
The story of your organisation is going to be told, this determines who we are today and hence our future.
It is crucial for any leader of a business that wants to grow and not be overcome by the complex challenges of out contemporary world to ask himself a very simple question:
What story about ourselves do we want to share with the world?
Which story is most effective and will keep us moving forward?
This is what storytelling is about: defining in the present what will be possible for us in the future, releasing the energies contained in our story.
It is about transforming our experience into new energy, reminding us about our value.
In the bible Matthew says, “every scribe…..brings both new and old things out of his treasure chest” these experiences taken together are our unique qualit.
Globalized markets, the fast-paced social and technological changes that redefine languages and contexts in time frames that are becoming terrifyingly short – unprecedented in the history of mankind – are the “beasts that haunt us in the darkness”.
Fear plunges us into a state of emergency, it makes us build walls that prevent us from seizing opportunities, it prevents us from understanding that to be innovative we need to share a new story about ourselves with the world. This awareness is one of the responsibilities leaders have today.
We cannot be distracted: each company needs to refocus its vision by drawing on its intangible heritage, its history, its roots, its purpose, not to withdraw but to create partnerships and build through its inner value, a strategy that produces growth, improvement and innovation essential qualities required to be visionary and competitive.
Accepting this challenge means being players who are aware of their identity and at the same time open to change.
Using all your energy to defend the small ramparts that are bound to crumble under the pressure of an ever faster changing world, is a battle lost even before it begins, it turns us into the slaves of urgency. We must raise our heads and peer over the horizon, and to do this we need to climb to the top of a tower. This tower is our story, re-interpreted, renewed and shared.
If this is true for individuals and companies, it is even more true for Italy as a whole: “Better storytelling is needed, a story that enhances Italian specialness”, is stated in the Report «Italy: a new deal, a better future”, by EY in cooperation with the Bocconi University, Invitalia and Sace, presented recently in New York.
For this reason, two years ago, we decided it was time for us to tell a new story about ourselves that identifies the unique quality, that is Simmetrico. This process gave rise to the development of a new division “ Simmetrico Cultura ” dedicated to the production of entertainment and cultural formats.
Simmetrico has developed so far seven original projects based on a wide range of international contents that belong the international cultural human heritage. The latest ones are dedicated one to a celebration of the light as a social, cultural and scientific phenomenon and one to one of the most significant protagonist of modern history: Ernesto Che Guevara.
We have opted for the idea that it is important to develop our service with products imagining that the future is not only going to be about winning contracts through tenders, but about being seen as content providers who can anticipate needs and offer products for the cultural communications market.
This new approach immediately triggered new dynamics that have attracted new professional skills and new partnerships. This has generated new energy in the company with benefits also for the projects associated with new contracts.
Choosing to redefine one’s story is an inescapable act of courage, it means confronting change with an attitude that is the outcome of the meeting between our past story and the role we want to play in the future.
Every company, every entrepreneur is the differential between two worlds: the “utopian” world of vision and of possibility versus the world of concreteness and sustainability. Finding a synthesis that keeps us in the middle: this is our job! ….. but that is another story.
The path of development and innovation pursued in recent years by Simmetrico has been strongly inspired by the ideas and work of one of today’s most interesting, in our opinion, communicators of the contemporary world: Patrizio Paoletti. His ideas have marked and pollinated our growth and it is therefore only dutiful to mention him here and thank him for his relentless and precious work of awareness raising, a bridge between ancient ideas about man and the places of his possible future.
Our working year has drawn to a close with the arrival of the summer holidays and so I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our friends who have had the patience of reading these few lines to the end: happy holidays and best wishes for a well deserved period of rest.