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  • Writer's pictureElisse Gabriel

Machines Don’t Tell the Story—Humans Do

Updated: Jun 13, 2019

I recently had the opportunity to tour state-of-the-art laboratories at a biotech company in Emeryville, where scientists discuss everything from DNA sequencing and manufactured molecules to software programming languages and robots. All very cool, space-age and wow-worthy, at least to the extent that my plebeian brain could absorb the barrage of data.

The Research & Development manager alerted me that visitors often got fidgety about 20 minutes into the tour, as they were led from one sterile laboratory into another. Why? Despite the technological achievements of this visionary company, there was little mention of the humans behind the inventions, nor a story that captured the company’s remarkable journey.

My job was to help R&D tour guides discover how to maintain the interest of visitors (including potential investors) while honoring the research team's roles as serious scientists. Through the power of story, we were able to transform what was previously a dry, technical tour into an eye-opening behind-the-scenes adventure, filled with discovery, insight, and a values-driven mission.

With the revised tour, visitors now feel energized rather than exhausted, excited about the company’s potential and confident in its value. Through story, an otherwise white-and-gray lab tour now brims with color, dimension, and lasting resonance.

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