This is an episode from Storyteller Tactics
Each week we release a story that uses two cards from the up and coming Storyteller Tactics card deck.
The penny finally dropped in Nan’s back garden.
Niamh and her Dad stood there, watching Tony the estate agent hacking brambles and weeds with a spade. Slowly he reveals a low concrete slab, covered in moss and cracked with age.
“See,” he said. “It’s a concrete footing. Part of the foundations. It must run to the fenceline over there by the tree.”
It turns out that back in the 80’s, Niamh’s Nan decided to build a second bungalow on the massive plot of land behind her home. Then prices slumped and she gave up on the idea. Tony was a clerk at the local estate agent back then. He remembered seeing builders start - then leave - the site. And when the bungalow came back on the market, Tony guessed the planning consent might still be active. One trip to the dusty Town Hall archives later, and here we are.
“Basically, you’ve gone from selling a 1970s bungalow with an overgrown garden to selling a plot for development,” Tony says, smiling. “I’d say you’ve added eighty thousand to the asking price.”
Great news for Niamh’s Dad. Not so great news for Niamh’s job.
There’s a reason why no estate agent ever gets more than 5% market share. There’s a reason why the property business resists technological transformation. There’s a reason why MiCasa will fail. Local knowledge is impossible to automate and impossible to scale.
Niamh realises MiCasa is doomed because there’s no magic code she can write that will replace Tony and his spade. Every Sorcerer has his - or her - limits.
I wonder, thinks Niamh, does Derek need an apprentice?
This week’s Storyteller Tactics
Pride and Fall
This is the story of Icarus, Frankenstein and Jurassic Park, it’s as old as the Tower of Babel. It goes “look how clever we are… oh shit!” If you hear someone talking up their chances, their tech or their skill, then part of you is thinking “This sounds too good to be true.”
You are waiting for them to come crashing down. As a designer, you need to understand this story so you can reassure the sceptics in your audience.
Stories work because they create strong visual images in our heads. I can literally “see” what you mean. When you want to get a message across, create a single moment, with a real person doing a real thing in a real time and place.
Here’s Tony, hacking brambles with a spade. This is what local knowledge looks like. This “scene” starts a little movie playing in my head and that’s what I’ll remember.