A World with a Billion Storytellers

Learn and apply the mechanisms to effective storytelling in the digital age, how things are today and how networked communications determine the impact the stories we tell. Discover and apply tools like Look Around, Understand, Do as well understand the role self-publishing plays for individuals and brands today.

Look Around, Understand, Do

Inspired by the etymology and definition of the word “realize”, ‘Look Around, Understand and Do’ is a sense-making framework to empower individuals with the ways and means to develop awareness and understanding and ultimately take action in a world of continuous change and increasing performance pressure.

The framework is built upon three clear distinctions and variations of the word realize: 1) to become fully aware; 2) to internalize 3) and to give physical form.

If we pause to reflect on the meaning and origin of words, there’s much to gain.

Look Around (To become fully aware)

As individuals and groups we are up against our historic bias and “ways of looking”. We have also been trained to quickly jump in, assess a situation and form a conclusion, often reinforced by our bias. This runs in contradiction to being open and exploratory, two skills and a mindset vital to our day and age. Here the main thing to work on is our attitude and mindset around others, places and phenomenon we observe in our world.

  • Interaction

    In pairs, ask participants to take their phones and unlock them. Invite them to offer their phone to the other individual to explore – what apps are on their phone, how are they organized, how many notifications are there etc. Be clear that participants should not go in to any application, just simply observe the differences. Out of this simple exercise, a lot of understanding and relatedness emerges. We are all different and have different ways of relating to the world, our technologies and information.

Understand (To Internalize)

Once we move from investigating to form a conclusion, we investigate to understand. Similar to the work done in leadership to development around listening to learn, versus listening to fix when encountering a problem, the same rule of thumb applies in this step of the framework. How can you see things in a new way, whether that’s flows and systems in business or the interactions of people together or the stories they are moved by.

  • Interaction

    Pairs or small groups are briefed with an insight or piece of research with the clear instruction only to look for positives and to go deeper. Challenge each other through clarifying question to reach second or third order consequences. Instead of looking for a conclusion immediately, participants can detach from outcome to get to the root of an opportunity or change.

Do (To give physical form)

Recalling our example of the transformative changes in pitstop crew times from the 1950s today we realize that thinking their way through process adjustments was not going to give the gains that we see today, they needed to act their way. Learning by doing has two distinct perks: first, it exploits what is and you get better with training and second, it opens you up for exploration, not just exploitation. Trying new things opens you up to do new things that you couldn’t previously do or were not possible. With learning though comes mistakes, and this must be accounted for.

  • Interaction

    Conduct risk analysis for the 21st century by purposefully conducting 1 new mistake each week by forcing failure, but in a calculated manner of course. Manage and measure the costs of your mistakes. What can you learn from them and what can your system of work handle?

    *Provide example from session after summit.


SAMR is a mental model originally derived from a learning context applicable from pre-school to post-secondary levels. At a theoretical level, there are academic flaws in its application in learning environments but as a mental model to leverage in the moment of assessing a new technology, business model or system it’s a helpful addition to your tool belt. To read about it in its original use, please visit here.

For the purpose of our work SAMR is a way to explain new technology and its impact on business. It’s applicable to all industries, sectors and functions.

In straight forward terms SAMR stands for: Substitution – Technology acts as a direct substitute with no functional change, Augmentation – Technology acts as a direct substitute with functional improvement, Modification – Technology allows for significant task redesign and Redefinition – Technology allows for creation of new tasks, previously inconceivable. .

Quite simply, if you can assess and understand what redefinition is and isn’t you will be well placed to assess the impact of a new technology or technological improvement. Take for example, Wikipedia. Every culture through time has had encyclopedia. They moved from oral tradition, to paper and then to online. While online, they had links (internal and external), multimedia and so on. Eventually they found their way to digital apps and on to our phones. This we would define as digitization and would classify these moves augmentation or maybe even modification when using the SAMR mental model. But with Wikipedia we see a classic example of redefinition. They reconstructed the foundations of what defined the encyclopedia and leveraged technology and peer contribution to create a whole new way to define and store knowledge.

  • Interaction

    Individually, work with the SAMR framework to reflect upon a technology or set of technology driven processes. Go through the steps one at a time either individually, in pairs or with your team and work through applying this model.Over time build the confidence to quickly assess the effects of changes in digital advertising, communications and business models for example.

    *Provide example from session after summit.

Explore Further

In this podcast listen to Ogilvy Vice Chairman Rory Sutherland and discover how we treat rational vs irrational ideas and how opening up ourselves to new perspectives helps unlock innovations.

John Hagel works out of Deloitte’s Center for the Edge and is a leading thinker on what will drive the future of work successfully. In this piece he discusses passion and its relationship to curiosity and exploration – two traits that will create opportunities for individuals and teams moving forward.