Stories are important. We know this because it is our lived experience. But why do they matter?

The most thoughtful answer I have encountered is contained in “Why humans run the world” — an amazing TED talk by Yuval Noah Harari. Here is a summary compiled from selected excerpts (emphasis added):

70,000 years ago humans were insignificant animals. The most important thing to know about prehistoric humans is that they were unimportant. Their impact on the world was very small, less than that of jellyfish, woodpeckers or bumblebees.

Today, however, humans control this planet. How did we reach from there to here? What was our secret of success, that turned us from insignificant apes minding their own business in a corner of Africa, into the rulers of the world?

We often look for the difference between us and other animals on the individual level.

The real difference between us and other animals is on the collective level.

Yet how come humans alone of all the animals are capable of cooperating flexibly in large numbers ?

The answer is our imagination. We can cooperate with numerous strangers because we can invent … stories, spread them around, and convince millions of strangers to believe in them. 

If you have not seen that TED talk or read the transcript, you owe it to yourself to do so.

Stories matter because of their extraordinary utility and effectiveness in organizing people. This is not a revelation. It is also not new to software development – where user stories as a form of requirements documentation is common practice.

What is remarkable, we believe, is that our software development practice starts with, and is centered around stories. Not just the usual micro-level user stories as requirements, but also the big organizing, mythical stories — the ones we tell ourselves and each other to make sense of our lives and the world around us — the ones that define the drama that we call our lives.

Our goal is to build better systems. These are systems that deliver functionality in the context of immersive interactive stories that organize individuals, workplaces and homes.

We accomplish this by helping you define your organizing story, capturing user needs as extensions of that story, then creating solutions that meet those needs while delivering experiences that are aligned with your larger, organizing story.

We know this is an unusual (some might say eccentric) approach to software development, so we know it’s not for everyone. But if this approach resonates with you, let’s talk.