VISUALIZING STRATEGIES, RESEARCH, AND REPORTS

Organizations’ strategy papers and reports are transformed into narrative scenarios and visual art, designed to illuminate and communicate the key points and lessons, but in a form more likely to be read, shared, and remembered. Our team literally pioneered the concept, applying it in projects that range from authoring New York Times-best selling books and consulting on the video game that is the best-selling entertainment project in history. These can be assembled into a publication series or even anthology book.

CASE STUDY: HOW TO REACH WIDER AND HIGHER AUDIENCES

The Australian Defense Force developed a new plan to reform its enterprise and education. Useful Fiction transformed the 21 page white paper into an engaging story and artwork, following an officer on a future embassy evacuation mission, that visualized the report’s key elements and what successful application of the strategy would achieve. “Eye for a Storm” has since been read by over 15,00 readers, republished in one of the most popular military outlets to reach an even wider audience, as well as been read by the Chief of Defense of Australia and at least seven US 4 star flag officers.

CASE STUDY: HOW TO PROVOKE ATTENTION AND ACTION

The Cybersecurity Solarium Commission is a bipartisan group of members of Congress tasked with remaking U.S. cyber strategy for the next generation. Its members and research team spent a year generating a 182-page report with 80 recommendations. We were commissioned to summarize and transform the findings into a format designed to reach key audiences, as well as generate emotions that would lead them to pay greater attention to the key recommendations. In a first for both US government documents and fiction, the resultant “Warning from Tomorrow” was made the introduction chapter to the report. As the Co-Chairman of the Commission, Rep. Mike Gallagher later summed, “To drive home the importance of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission’s recommendations, we wanted to make sure the reader fully understood the potential consequences of inaction. Singer and Cole built a compelling scenario that set the tone for the Commission’s report, making the stakes clear to every reader.”

CASE STUDY: HOW TO EXPLAIN COMPLEX OR TECHNICAL INFORMATION

The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) is the science inside UK defence and security, providing world class expertise and delivering cutting-edge science and technology for the benefit of the nation and allies. “Stories From Tomorrow” is an anthology book that helps to explain the complex technologies and trends that loom, ranging from AI to quantum. “Enthralling and inspirational” is how the lab director and Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Ministry of Defence described the project.

CASE STUDY: HOW TO COMMUNICATE A STRATEGY

Facing both new challenges and a new geopolitical environment, US Special Operations Command has developed a new strategy and commander’s imperative. The Fourth Age: The Future of Special Operations is a series of stories that visualize each of the strategy’s four pillars, both their importance and how they might look like in execution, culminating in an anthology style book that wove together both the scenarios and nonfiction documents. “Through their creative talent and subject matter knowledge, the author realistically portray what is within the realm of the possible. They draw upon the lessons of the past, while imagining the future.” General Bryan Fenton, US Army, Commander of US Special Operations Command.


CONFERENCE, WARGAME, AND EVENT VISUALIZATIONS

Engaging “pre-reads” and graphics are created for leader conferences, events, and wargames. These create both a “scene-setter” and unifying experience for attendees, while conveying key event themes through a mechanism more likely to hit with effect. After the event, they can also provide a better means for distilling and sharing out the event findings, AARs, and lessons learned, especially to those unable to attend.

 

CASE STUDY: HOW TO CONVEY A LEADERSHIP VISION

“Corona” is the most senior leadership meeting of the US Air Force. Building around the idea of “what if” the group was meeting 25 years into the future, we transformed the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, General C.Q. Brown’s leadership goals into creative and engaging vision documents and artifacts of what success might look like. These included a welcome speech to the 100 year anniversary of the Air Force to a future recruiting poster.

CASE STUDY: HOW TO SET THE SCENE FOR EFFECTIVE MEETINGS

The Inter Astra conference brought together leaders from the worlds of science, business, politics, and culture to explore the future of the space economy and equity. Working with its planning team, we created a pre-read, in the form of a faux news article from the future, which conveyed the key themes of discussion, but in a creative manner. The package was provided to attendees before they traveled to the event, as well as shared via the conference app. We also provided original artwork for branding and posters displayed during the event, including at the Smithsonian-Air and Space Museum.  —CHE review quote

 

CASE STUDY: HOW TO SHARE LESSONS LEARNED

The Norwegian Army ran a series of wargame and exercises on the future of conflict, AI, and autonomous systems. Drawing from their lessons learned, we generated a fictionalized narrative that distilled key insights from their exercises. The “Arctic Night” product was ultimately used in briefings all the way up to the Minister of Defense, as well as republished in a popular magazine to share the insights with young officers who would not normally read the event report.

 


LEADERSHIP AND TRAINING EVENTS

Structured as half, 1, or 2 day events, Useful Fiction’s in-person or online teaching blends world class experts sharing key principles and lessons learned through a mix of lecture and conversations, along with exercises that allow hands-on experiences. We have provided such classes to organizations that range from the NATO military alliance to Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs training program for US government executives.

HOW TO GAIN COMMUNICATION, STRATEGIC NARRATIVE AND CHANGE MANAGEMENT SKILLS

The events feature lessons from renowned defense, business, and creative experts, along with interactive “writers’ room” exercises that allow hands-on professional-level creative experiences. The goal is both to build professional skills as well as identify the key “stories” an organization needs to communicate well and new ways to reach its most important audiences. The speakers have ranged from the former heads of the US Navy, USMC, and Special Operations Command to Fortune 500 executives to best-selling authors to the writers of the Game of Thrones series and the director of the Call of Duty games.

 

CASE STUDY: “Blue Horizons”

“Blue Horizons” is a group tasked by the commander of the U.S. Air Force to identify and understand future trends and their implications for its strategy and planning. Useful Fiction™ built both 1 and 2 day in-person and online courses designed to train USAF mid-career leaders on forecasting and narrative for more effective communications. The events featured how-to lectures and lessons learned from a group that included New York Times best-selling authors, a venture capitalist investor, a corporate futurist, the head of Australian military officer training, the former Commander of US Special Operations, the co-writers of Game of Thrones, the producer of Hunger Games and Crazy Rich Asians, and the team behind The Walking Dead. These were followed by various training exercises to allow the students to apply the lessons learned into developing actual story concept creation based on areas of real world concern to their organization. 

Drew Wagstaff, the USAF Blue Horizons director, reviewed of the experience: “…The content was thoroughly engaging, whether it was discussions with the authors themselves, engagements with Hollywood executives, or hands-on assignments meant to teach the skills of creative writing and FICINT™. Highly recommend to any program seeking top notch instruction that boosts the creativity and passion of their students.”

 

AI: WHAT LEADERS NEED TO KNOW

Seemingly out of nowhere, artificial intelligence has caught the world’s attention, with seemingly endless applications across almost every sector. However, as potentially powerful and useful for organizations it might be,  AI also presents novel challenges that demand a deeper understanding of it by leaders, especially with so many in their organization already beginning to use it without guidance. Gaining a deeper insight into the varied issues surrounding AI is increasingly an essential “need to know” for leaders, both to harness its benefits responsibly while mitigating potential risks.

Featuring a mix of experts in fields crossing technology, policy, and law, this workshop will introduce leaders to the essential knowledge and tools to better navigate the complex landscape of AI, fostering a more-informed approach to integrating this transformative technology into their strategic decision-making processes.

What You Will Learn:

  • AI 101: Tech, Tools, Tips 
  • What Is My AI Good For…And Not?
  • Security, Privacy, and Ethical Issues
  • Training You and Your AI
  • What Next? The Future of AI

MENTORING AND “WRITER IN RESIDENCE” PROGRAMS

A team of experienced editors and writers will provide on-call writing and editorial support to an organization’s reports and publications, ensuring they are crafted at a professional level and achieve intended effect on their target audiences.

CASE STUDY: HOW TO IMPROVE PRODUCT

A U.S. Navy Command needed to develop a strategy paper to make the case for its vision of operations over the next 10 years. We assisted the writing team, providing mentoring and feedback in the four phases of the project: ideation, outlining, drafting, and editing. The document was successfully used to shape senior leadership’s understanding of key issues and trends.


CONSULTING AND SUBJECT MATTER EXPERTISE

Our principals are considered among the world’s best at strategic forecasting and technology futures, including being described in The Wall Street Journal as the “premier” at the task. They are regularly engaged to help organizations develop fresh perspectives on emergent trends that can guide investment, policy, and growth. Renowned as public speakers, they have provided keynote lectures and briefings to audiences that range from heads of state and Fortune 100 CEO business retreats to 20,000-person tech industry conventions. They have spoken at venues as diverse as the White House and Nobel Institute to the Sydney Opera House and the deck of an aircraft carrier. Their extensive networks and experience as event organizers also mean that they are able to develop projects that engage a wide range of fellow subject matter experts, from award-winning science fiction writers to generals and admirals.

CASE STUDY: UNDERSTANDING THE FUTURE

A video game firm enlisted us in a project to identify key trends and technology that will shape the next 20 years, to allow them to better understand their future market and world they must visualize in their games. As the lead developer later evaluated, our work “really showed us that we were only scratching the surface of what we should be thinking about in the future..We have never been able to look at the world the same way again.”