Feedback on Useful fiction events
“…One of the best development programs I’ve experienced in over 18 years in both SOF and Army Strategist career fields.”
– Attendee of workshop for SOCOM
“A method to introducing highly engaging change methodologies….The Useful Fiction workshop sought to describe capability options within a compelling conceptual narrative, by blending narrative and non-fiction elements in a persuasive, tangible, practical, and accessible manner….The workshop was extremely engaging, with very positive feedback received from all participants. As hosts and moderators, Singer and Cole, were highly effective in drawing out contemporary lessons, observations, insights and in linking discussions. The workshop helped participants to build narrative outlines, tear apart the central idea, and bring it together through engaging prose. It changed the way participants might pitch ideas for decision makers…. Participants gained skills not just in narrative, but also in research, analysis forecasting, foresight, and communication.”
– Major General Andrew Roe CB, Chief Executive and Commandant of the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom
“…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.”
– Drew Wagstaff, Director of US Air Force “Blue Horizons” Center for Strategy and Technology
“We’ve received very positive feedback on the design, structure, delivery, and content of the workshop. We appreciate your attention to detail and your commitment to meeting our needs. Your professionalism and expertise have made it a pleasure to work with you.”
– Leadership & Organizational Development Director, Office of the Secretary of Defense
“It was great, exactly what I was looking for. It really captured their attention and created a great energy.”
– Commandant of the RAF Tedder Academy of Leadership
Feedback on Useful fiction ViSUALizations
“Useful Fiction makes facts compelling.”
– Joint Services Command and Staff College (JSCSC), United Kingdom
“I am sure you will find their stories enthralling and inspirational.”
– Professor Dame Angela McLean – Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Ministry of Defence
“The work, in my view, is exceptional.”
– President, Joint Special Operations University
“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.”
– Rep. Mike Gallagher, Co-Chairman of Cyberspace Solarium Commission
“…Helps us put ourselves in very different situations and think practically about how to win when ‘There is no spoon’!”
– Air Marshal Ian Gale, Royal Air Force
“What an amazing story you create for the future operational scenario. After reading just the first two paragraphs, I immediately jumped up to go show it to my co-workers. They were equally excited and asked to get a copy of their own to read!”
– Director, Strategy Policy and Planning Division, Virginia Tech Applied Research Corporation
our BACKGROUND OF IDEAS INSPIRING ACTION
The Useful Fiction team has worked on a variety of projects that show both their experience and the potential impact of strategic narrative.
Before working together, our co-founders were NYTimes bestselling authors of nonfiction and a journalist at the Wall Street Journal. In 2015, they teamed up on Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War, which pioneered the idea of Useful Fiction™ (also known as FICINT™). Through the deliberate blend of narrative and nonfiction, it shared research on topics that ranged from assessing the risks of great power conflict to supply-chain and cybersecurity threats. The book not only became a best-seller, but soon entered the official reading lists of every US military service, the CIA, NSA, Coast Guard, Royal Air Force, Royal Australian Navy, etc. Our team was then invited to share its real-world lessons at locations that included the White House Situation Room, the “Tank” for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Fortune 500 C-suites, and multiple testimonies to Congress. Its insights were subsequently woven into everything from the US Marine Corps “Ghost Fleet” wargames to the US Navy’s $3.6 billion “Ghost Fleet” autonomous warship program.
The team followed this up with a years-long “AI Visualized” project, which culminated in Burn-In: A Novel of the Real Robotic Revolution. It explored the future of AI, robotics, and the Internet of Things and the security, political, economic, social, legal, and moral dilemmas that will result. Here again, the form of useful fiction proved better suited to surfacing new insights, reaching new readers, and informing leaders in manner beyond the typical white paper or powerpoint. Our team was invited to brief its lessons to multiple heads of state, including the US President-Elect, as well as 4-star generals, Fortune 100 C-suites, and leading venture capitalists, at locations that spanned three continents and ranged from the decks of aircraft carriers to the Nobel Institute.
Building on these projects, the team was then asked to create a series of FICINT™ projects on other organIzations’ strategic needs and research, ranging from helping them visualize and communicate cybersecurity strategy to geoeconomic trends. This included projects for the Atlantic Council, CIA, US Marine Corps Warfighting Lab, Norwegian Army, NATO’s Innovation Hub, U.S. Military Academy-West Point, Ubisoft, The Brute Krulak Center for Innovation and Creativity, and the U.S. Congress.
Drawing upon these models of success and identifying a wider need that organizations had for strategic narrative, so as to better tell their own stories, Useful Fiction LLC was founded in 2021. It has since worked with over 50 different public and private sector organizations and its work featured in media ranging from NPR to The Economist.