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The digitalwerk storytelling challenge
How a marble cake triggered a paradigm shift for us

Mariella Greiml

Mariella Greiml

Storytelling identifies big stories even in the smallest things: This is how a marble cake becomes a team building tool, an absolute banger or even a New Work model.

How a marble cake triggered a paradigm shift for us

Storytelling has long been a buzzword in communication strategies. It's no secret that attention spans are getting shorter and more and more stimuli are competing for our attention every day - it's no longer enough to simply pitch your products and services to the target group in a plain way. They have to be placed in a context that touches the target group and keeps them engaged in the long term.

So far, we have heard it so often. At digitalwerk, however, we have come to a realization that is not proclaimed quite so frequently: Storytelling not only helps to sell products and services or to position a brand. You can find a story, a dramaturgy, in even smaller things - even where you wouldn't have suspected it before.

There’s a story in everything

This observation was prompted by our own agency processes. We are very good at presenting big ideas or setting off storytelling fireworks at pitches - in daily business, however, we often rely on tried-and-tested methods, the same old PowerPoint slides and familiar Excel sheets that come across as dry. Because the fact is: even in a creative marketing agency, the wheel is not reinvented every day or the next big viral idea is born. But does that mean that daily business tasks are automatically free of any dramaturgy?

A challenge is born

To question this, we launched the digitalwerk Summer Challenge with a focus on storytelling. The idea: digitalwerkers worked in interdisciplinary teams on the same challenge, which was: "Why should digitalwerk provide a marble cake every week? Pretty much anything was allowed - from the choice of medium to the argumentation, the teams were allowed to develop completely freely.

The digitalwerk Storytelling Challenge

As an impulse generator and specialist in storytelling, we received help from petrichor. Brigitte Maier and Johannes Woller gave a presentation with a workshop exercise on how to use a wide variety of means and methods to achieve emotional persuasion. The teams were then given time over the summer months to forge their story - and then present it to management in the fall. The submissions were evaluated and incentivized with various prizes.

The results are in

The result: Not only an impressive display of the incredible skills and (hidden!) talents of the digitalwerker*innen - all submissions, although all told in the form of a video, relied on different methods and arguments. One submission even managed to cleverly spin the question around the marble cake into a fundamentally different message, thus using the slot with the management for a very special food for thought. Sounds cryptic? It is - until you hear and see the story behind it....

What we were told

In keeping with the User Centered Design approach, the management gathered feedback from the team members during and after the challenge in order to take this into account in the next challenge with a different focus.

The evaluation of an anonymous survey revealed a number of insights. Overall, the Challenge was perceived very positively - the work in the team was great fun. However, pressure was felt when working on the project in parallel to the daily workload. This could have been avoided if the deadline for the presentation had actually been set earlier, in order to avoid a possible overflow of invested resources. An important learning for the management.

To cut a long story short

Everything is a stage. How big the play is that is being performed is often beside the point. The solutions we develop are always aimed at people - the best reporting, the most exciting insights, the most moving findings are only worth as much as they are placed in an understandable and emotionally moving context. So every day, we need to address the question: Why is this information important? What goal will I achieve with it? What pain point can I address and alleviate? And how can I dress all this up in an exciting project thriller?

All these questions were answered by our teams in a variety of ways. The derivation and the methodology were explained by each team and showed that even the craziest ideas followed a logical approach to place their intentions with the management. Mission accomplished!

Regardless of the final "winner" of the challenge, one thing is clear: The task was understood and mastered, and the results are anything but 08/15. Completely different talents and strengths were used and surprised many colleagues. But let's be honest - which team would have made you donate a cake every week?

Photo collage of the digitalwerk team at the Storytelling Challenge
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