the Storyteller (2001)


The storyteller (2001)

Storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it.  –   H. Arendt


Good storytellers are people who can captivate and keep  their audience. Not only because of the way they tell stories, but also because they can often put a number of seemingly isolated topical facts and developments in a causal connection in a fascinating way. And manage to weave a story around it. This creates an insight with the audience: why is happening what is happening. A storyteller sees developments and trends and can sketch with this  a picture of the future.

Successful business leaders are storytellers. They can draw a strategic perspective and it matters less whether he is 100% right. Anyway, his picture sharpens your thinking, compels the audience to choose a position of their own, to formulate concrete business scenarios and helps the company to get a picture of important developments and patterns more quickly.

You can see developments in this way: in the Netherlands, the number of accidents because of toppled trucks is growing, the degree of loading of airplanes is decreasing, Airbus tries to find it in larger airplanes than Boeing and TPG Mail does not really see a substantial decrease of scale of the season’s greeting mail in spite of the e-mail.

Now the connections with the help of an example, like the group ticket the Dutch Railways used to offer, a basic example of a purchase combination, which made it possible to travel the same route cheaper with several travellers. Suppose you want to travel from A to B tomorrow. Of course you can buy a ticket then at the ticket office. However, you can also try, via the Internet, to find other people who want to travel the same route and to rent a bus together with them or buy a group ticket. That will make the journey much cheaper for everyone. It is essential that forming such a community of people has become feasible because of the Internet. With the Internet, this is a matter of minutes.

Because it has become much easier is exactly why people with a common interest will more and more manage to find each other via the Internet. They start to form purchase combinations and force pinch-work solutions on the market that are interesting for them. An example of this is the Dutch Internet community with currently 180,000 members who together fill up fuel cheaply: the Internet brings back the cent!

How could the image of the group ticket fit in with aviation and road transport? After all, a charter is nothing else  but a community, a kind of group ticket in aviation transporting us from point to point. Here lies the chance for charter companies to enable customers forming a temporary community to arrange their own point-to-point transport. In this way, flying becomes more and more “air-dating”. A kind of group ticket offered through a fly-date site seems obvious. I predict to you that this will happen within three years and that aviation will soon “charterize”, community-controlled. People will get used to it: charters are made-to-measure, scheduled flights are bulk. A great future for the Easyjets and Ryanairs and other low-cost operators who will actually and hopefully safely do this.

For airlines, it will therefore become more interesting to directly take travelers who organize themselves in purchase combinations to their destination instead of through hubs”, modern word for staple places. Obviously, that has consequences for main port strategies of airports.

To be able to implement that strategy, you, as an air carrier, do need mass for the necessary point-to-point operational impetus. Obviously, this strategy is better practicable if you can put in many somewhat smaller airplanes. Bigger airplanes will have a structurally lower degree of loading and occupancy and become too expensive for many routes. Would the difference in the plans for the future of Boeing (small airplanes) and Airbus (even bigger airplanes) have anything to do with that? By now, the first supersonic business jets are in production.

Even four years ago, storytellers foresaw that for flower and fruit auctions, communities generating much road transport, that all activity will be dealt with through the Internet using webcams and certification of producers involved. After which the goods are driven straight from seller/producer to the purchaser. Now, it is indeed reality.

This makes the challenge for companies to identify the potential “group tickets” of their customers, to get these operational as a community through clever marketing and to integrate these as a form of Customer Relationship Management in their marketing and distribution strategies in their management. The nice thing about the auction example is that it makes clear why the Internet does not reduce the physical mobility but even increases it. This paradox, virtual fosters physical, can also be seen, for instance, with outwork, also a made-to-measure solution. Outwork proves to not reduce the number of commuter kilometers – and therefore mobility – but even increase it. Because of outworking, people involved often settle farther from their work. It is true they will come less often to their work, but still they travel more miles: the Internet makes made-to-measure living possible.

This paradox is a truth we often do not (want to) see. “Virtual fosters physical”, or the more Internet, the more old economy through increased mobility and made-to-measure work. The more physical goods we have on our desks and carry with us, the more physical offices we build, the more PCs we install, the more paper we print… The more CDs you sell the more audience visit your concert: the CD as a virtual carrier of the concert as a physical event. Once you see this connection, you will see it everywhere! And thus it could happen that the Internet as the driving force of the old economy did still help TPG Mail get season’s greetings-mail again. It started with e-mail. Then it became the e-card. And finally, we still want a handwritten card on our walls. And that is what will happen once again in the near future.

Isn’t that true …. ?


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