Useful FictioN™ is the deliberate blending of narrative and nonfiction in packages that range from books and short stories to bespoke illustrations, videos, and graphic novellas.

Listen to Q&A about Useful Fiction on Monocle Radio

“What is Useful Fiction?” Video clip from Syxsense Forum, 2023




First, it packages new information within the oldest, and most effective, technology of communication. The use of narrative dates back to humans’ earliest days around a fire in a cave (while Powerpoint is only 30 years old), so it is not surprising that our brains are literally wired to take in story. Studies from fields extending from cognitive science and psychology to national security research finding that such “synthetic experiences” are actually even more powerful influencers than even the most “canonical academic sources” on not just public understanding but policymaker actions.

It is particularly useful for complex or new concepts. Understanding a new trend or technology is tough enough. It is all the more difficult when it is something that the targeted audience has no deep background or current frame of reference for it. In such situations, we can be aided by guides in a sense, imagined characters who can lead us into simulated versions of our world. We can then “experience” what the research is actually telling us, as well as “feel” out its effects. 

“Entertaining and informative and, through the narrative settings and characters who share research ideas, a reader will be able to learn about the transformative potential some technologies have and how they could shape future conflicts.” – IFL Science



Secondly, creative content places information within a framework that is more likely to be acted upon and drive change management. FICINT engages both the left and right sides of the brain, enhancing understanding and creating emotional connection. Put simply, effective narrative provokes an emotion and that emotion then provokes action. We are all heroes or victims in our own life stories, and the same plays out in the connections we make to the scenes and characters in synthetic environments. FICINT narratives allow us to leverage that all-too-human inclination to drive change, be it the fear of avoiding a depicted “nightmare scenario” or the desire to have real something experienced only in simulation.  

General Mick Ryan, Commander of the Australian Defense College with August Cole, Useful Fiction

Third, we connect through story, which makes the work more likely to be read and more likely to be shared than traditional forms. One of the biggest challenges for any project, especially those wrestling with future trends, is how much is competing for our attention today. People are more likely to read an engrossing story than a white paper and rarely recommend to others a good PowerPoint to read on vacation.

“The aim of the tales, described as “useful fiction”, is to spark discussion and creative insight which might challenge established thought.” – Forces

D.B. Weiss and David Benioff, Writers and Producers of HBO Game of Thrones, with P.W. Singer, Useful Fiction

These three attributes make Useful Fiction a powerful change management tool because it helps people to understand and connect with the reasons behind the change. When people are able to understand and connect with the reasons behind a change, they are more likely to be supportive of it and to take actions. 

  1. Communicating the need for change: By telling stories about how the current way of doing things is no longer sustainable, or how the organization needs to adapt to changing market conditions, leaders can help employees understand why the change is necessary.
  2. Creating a vision for the future: By sharing narratives about what the organization could look like in the future, leaders can help employees to see the benefits of the change and to understand what they are working towards.
  3. Encouraging action: By telling stories about how others have overcome obstacles and achieved success in similar situations, leaders can inspire employees to take action and to be proactive in driving the change forward.


“The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller.”
– Steve Jobs