Kickstarting culture change with comics

Published on
September 3, 2019
Graphic novel

The Challenge

Many organisations struggle with incremental thinking, especially if they are traditional or well-established. Incremental thinking focuses on making something better, whereas exponential thinking focuses on making something different.

In this digital age, organisations that rely on incremental thinking are in danger of disruption and becoming irrelevant. What can leaders of traditional organisations do to help their managers and teams adopt exponential thinking? This was the challenge that a government agency came to us with.

Source: Mark Bonchek
The comic book was ... distributed across the organisation so that leaders could start conversations with their managers and teams, and encourage them to adopt an exponential mindset by thinking differently.

The Approach

Exponential thinking requires imagination. A powerful way to unlock imagination is through storytelling. Take, for example, Lowe’s use of science fiction to unlock the imagination of its leaders and management. Storytelling enabled Lowe’s to unleash a wave of innovations that pushed it to the top of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies list for AR and VR in 2018.

We wanted to use a similar approach to help our government agency achieve its goals. So, instead of taking the usual training and workshop route, we proposed something different—the use of comic books to imagine possible solutions with managers and teams.

After a series of interviews with leaders from the agency, we identified five key themes. We then went on to the internet to find out what innovative companies were doing with emerging technologies.

Based on our research, we created five stories on how the agency’s work might dramatically change in the future. We then commissioned a celebrated science fiction comic artist to bring the stories to life using the language and context of the organisation.

A panel from the Imagine the Possibilities comic book, which reimagines the room-booking experience for the government agency.

The Outcome

Today, the government agency is among the leaders in driving Singapore’s smart nation ambitions. Many of the stories we created have also materialised in real-life. We are happy to see that the comic book has played a part in raising awareness of innovation and driving a culture of exponential thinking within the government agency.

Maish Nichani, co-founder, PebbleRoad
Maish Nichani

I enjoy helping organisations achieve their potential in an ever-changing and complex world. I lead product and transformation conversations.

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