Which stories are your clients not in?

Have you seen the movie, “Stranger than Fiction“? It’s the one with Will Farrell as an IRS Auditor. The catch is, he has a narrator. And the narrator looks and sounds exactly like Emma Thompson pretending to be a writer. You might like it.

I was watching this movie, again, the other day, and ran across a scene between Harold Crick (Will Farrell) and Professor Hilbert (Dustin Hoffman).

One of the ideas behind this scene is so applicable to my role as a solutions architect and a consultant that…

  1. I wanted to share this idea with you
  2. I think I’m going to write off as a business expense the price of the movie…

Here’s the scene:

(Professor Hilbert has been asking a dozen or so seemingly unrelated questions of Harold Crick…)
Harold Crick: What do these questions have to do with anything?
Professor Jules Hilbert : Nothing. The only way to find out what story you’re in is to determine what stories you’re not in.
Odd as it may seem, I’ve just ruled out half of Greek literature, seven fairy tales, ten Chinese fables, and determined conclusively that you are not King Hamlet, Scout Finch, Miss Marple, Frankenstein’s monster, or a golem.
Aren’t you relieved to know you’re not a golem?
Harold Crick: Yes, I am relieved to know that I am not a golem.


(Ignore the part about a golem – focus on ‘the stories that were ruled out’ part…)

So, here’s the thing – the next time I speak with a customer/client, I’ll try to also identify the business and security and compliance scenarios and stories that the organization are NOT in, as much as the scenarios and stories that they ARE in the business of.

It has been useful to look at customer requirements from different perspectives through all of my years working with customers. Here is yet another way to get the right perspective on the best solution to present to the customer.

So, which stories are your customers NOT in? – Perhaps, this concept will help you identify the most important stories that they need to protect the most.

P.S. There are a lot of solid ideas in this movie. I hope that you take the opportunity to watch it one day. 🙂

Categories: Consulting

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