Blade Runner — How an old movie can inspire new business goals.

January 6, 2022
3 min read
Photo by Warner Bros. Blade Runner. The Final Cut; Wikipedia
“Commerce is our goal, here. More human than human is our motto.”
— Dr. Eldon Tyrell

2022. We’re living in the future.

In the blink of an eye, we’re more than two decades into the 21st Century.

Blade Runner is in the past.

Fans will know that Philip K. Dick wondered about androids dreaming of electric sheep in 1968, a year before humans set foot on the moon. Ridley Scott’s masterpiece of #storytelling and world-building had its cinematic release in 1982, four years before Chernobyl and the Challenger disaster.

Blade Runner itself was set in November 2019, three years ago.

Our 2019 didn’t have off-world colonies, replicants, or flying cars — it brought a virus.

And in the two and a bit years since the world has struggled with this tragedy, people and businesses have been trying to get to the next normal.

Because we’re human, we struggle with all that change.

As businesses struggle with the future of work, a great resignation, and employees deal with stress and burnout, context is useful as work through change.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

This is an old adage, which I don’t think I have really understood before now. It’s about dealing with the stress of change. We all quietly panic when things are different, the hairs on the back of our necks go up when we have to deal with what’s new.

Painful to live in fear, isn’t it?

A way to get through that stress is not to focus on what’s changing, but to focus on what isn’t.

For instance, work is so different. We don’t drive to it anymore. Offices are closing, and re-opening, and closing again.

We’re human, and we do what humans do best — stress.

But what stays the same? What do people want out of work? and what do businesses need to be successful? We want to be engaged, we want to be aligned, and we want to be productive — and as leaders in business, that’s something we can all focus on.

Technology is here to help.

This sounds like something you would hear from a Blade Runner fanboy, but it’s true. In the long march of progress, gross domestic product per capita — how much value society creates per person — increases over time. The curve climbs steadily up and to the right, driven by technology.

But it’s not technology alone that can save us. A friend of mine reminded me yesterday of a formula — new technology plus old process equals old outcomes.

We’re using more technology, but most of us don’t use technology very well.

We have, on average, more than 50 apps on our smartphones, but use only 18 of them. We’ve all discovered how computer illiterate we are as we took to Zoom calls and worked remotely.

We’re human, and we must do what humans do best — adapt.
It’s time to help ourselves with technology, go easy on the fact that we’re not experts (but then again, who is?), and recognize that we’re our own tech support.

... is the story we tell ourselves.

Google “is the story we tell ourselves” and the blank fills in with life, culture, positivity, and reality.

It’s time to start telling ourselves better stories. Stories about us, not I. Stories that help us learn, that help us live. Stories that engage us, stories that align us, and stories that help us become more productive.

A Voight-Kampff test will tell you humans react to stories.

There are four types of story we should care for — our brand story (what people perceive us to be); our product story (that helps us build and create); our sales story (that helps us connect and sell); and our leadership stories (that help us share context).

We’re human, and we do what humans do best — see ourselves in the story.

We can all tell better stories. We can tell more love stories than horror stories. More stories that inspire us, and inform us. More stories that sell, stories that build, stories that share context.

All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.¹

Gavin McMahon is a founder and Chief Content Officer for fassforward consulting group. He leads Learning Design and Product development across fassforward’s range of services. This crosses diverse topics, including Leadership, Culture, Decision-making, Information design, Storytelling, and Customer Experience. He is also a contributor to Forbes Business Council.

Eugene Yoon is a graphic designer and illustrator at fassforward. She is a crafter of Visual Logic. Eugene is multifaceted and works on various types of projects, including but not limited to product design, UX and web design, data visualization, print design, advertising, and presentation design.

¹ This is my favorite line from the movie, but, try as I might, I couldn't work it in. Those I did are in italics.

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