Analysts, vendors and investors need to improve the way they shape stories about the future. That’s the message I was sharing in three talks to an international audience of eminent researchers at SASE19 in New York last week.
During the week my University of Edinburgh colleague, and co-author, Teea Palo and I had the chance to test out some of our ideas with AR professionals at an event hosted by ARinsights. They helped us hone the message to the conference, the 30th annual meeting organized by the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics.
Partly because it’s easier to teach, scholars tend to paint a rather naive picture of the role of business stories. rather like the build-a-better-mousetrap story we suggest that businesses need to prepare a compelling, original and distinct narrative that will surprise, inspire and fit the templates of business plans.
Sometimes that happens, especially in TV shows. However, our research shows that it often – and perhaps normally – doesn’t happen that way in business. The bigger the change and the more ambitious the plans are to reshape the future of business, the more managers need to co-operate with others to reuse the ideas and symbols from the past and create narratives that are powerful because they seem authentic and in continuity with much of what we know.
Quantitative research, which marketing scholars particularly rely on, cannot show this nuance. In the extensive, global qualitative research shared at the conference we saw how visions of the future need to re-usable, co-created and widely accepted to gain power.
To give a bit more insight into the papers I brought:
- In the opening session of our track, I presented a paper co-authored with Neil Pollock in which we explored the notion of accountability in the pitch to analysts. Vendors’ testimony is checked against past statements and in follow-up assessments. Vendors also need to make sure they are engaging with the analysts’ account of the market, as well as their own solution. This leverages a lot of the data used in our work on the endorsement economy: https://www.slideshare.net/dchapple/endorsement-economy-103436844
- Later I presented a fresher paper, which I am developing with the help of Pollock and Palo, which uses the evolution of the Magic Quadrant over the decades to show that changes in the evaluation ‘furniture’ also reflect changes in the underlying cultures of evaluation. This builds on ideas I presented at EEAST in 2016: https://www.slideshare.net/dchapple/how-the-quadrant-lost-its-magic-artefacts-and-the-social-learning-of-industry-analysts
- Finally, I presented with Professor Katy Mason on a new project looking at the role of intermediaries in the creation of futures: https://www.slideshare.net/dchapple/calculating-and-accounting-for-the-future-of-innovation