Story Challenge: adidas

ASM’s Story Challenge is an onsite exercise designed to give teams the skills they need to tell a compelling story.

The premise: Effective and compelling stories help company leaders enlist the help of colleagues, earn the cooperation of other departments, and win the key approvals that lead to the launch of a new product, initiative or service.

In early 2019, working with the adidas Future Team, Attention Span put together the first of several multi-day interactive events to help ignite creativity and convey key storytelling tips, tricks and techniques.

Story Coaches: The Secret to Your Success

The experience of our coaches is the magic ingredient that makes ASM’s Story Challenge unique. All of our coaches have decades of experience as long-form magazine and book authors. ASM coaches write for national magazines including; the New York Times Magazine, GQ, Outside, Wired, Esquire, Forbes, Vanity Fair and more.

Josh McHugh, Bonnie Tsui and Ethan Watters in Herzogenaurach, Germany

Most have also taught essay and non-fiction writing at the university level. With our design and strategic teams behind them providing “preproduction” materials and other creative support they lead each participant on a trek through storytelling and creative thinking essentials.

The Execution: Portland, Oregon + Herzogenaurach, Germany

Over the course of three days, first in Portland, Oregon and then at Adidas HQ in Herzogenaurach, Germany, over 130 members of the Future Team were coached to report and create seven-minute stories. The Story Challenge ended with groups presenting their stories to an audience of other participants and guests.

However, stories aren’t just for high-stakes presentations and sales pitches. They are crucial on a day-to-day basis to ensure group cohesion and engender a sense of shared purpose. Stories are how groups create a shared sense of meaning and maintain values over time. They are the best way to communicate an organization’s transcendent purpose. On a deeply human level, we know we are on the same team when we share the same stories.

To move effectively into an unknown future, teams must share the same understanding about the past—what got us to this point. In addition, finding the best path forward is a process of sharing a narrative about goals. What are the companies next steps and where we are headed beyond the horizon? The stories that lead us into the future are one that requires constant revision and retelling. Powerpoint presentations that rely only on facts and figures are not enough. Stories with tension, conflict, characters and compelling structures are essential.

The Outcome

The whole project was wildly successful. Needless to say the feedback was immediate and positive. The experience for all involved was memorable and requests for a round two came in within days of the events end.