Staying True to the Story

It’s been nine days since I picked up the first Harry Potter book.

No spoilers included, so don’t worry.

Having read all seven in a row, my initial impression of J.K. Rowling’s talent is only confirmed. She’s created characters who both enchant and annoy—much like many of the people who cross our paths. I don’t think Harry Potter would have meant so much to so many if he hadn’t been true to form, meaning he did, said, and thought things that were typical for any adolescent or teenager. As much as I like Harry, that didn’t keep me from wanting to give him a swift kick on occasion.

My earlier posts on Harry Potter touched on Rowling’s ability to appeal to both adults and children and her skill at creating worlds. After finishing the last book, I wondered, as with all of the really good books, why certain events had to happen. I’ve noticed that most of the stories that stick with me after I hear them don’t automatically lead to the “happy ending” we’ve been trained to expect. A true happy ending is one that doesn’t betray the beginning or the middle.

Stories themselves are a bit like the characters that inhabit them. They have individual quirks that make them different from each other. And when they’ve stayed true to themselves, from beginning to end, I believe they can become a part of how you see the world.

That’s why we’re pushing back against storytellers who aren’t staying true to their story. That’s why Dell got hit so hard on its customer service. Dell told a different story than the reality, and they paid the price. It’s why JetBlue and other airlines can’t seem to make a full comeback. They aren’t staying true to their story.

Rowling, Tolkien, and other amazing authors have created worlds and stories that stayed true to their character from beginning to end. Whether you’re a company or an individual, I think it makes sense to honor this code. It doesn’t matter rather you read volumes or little at all—we know what makes for a good story. And frankly, it’s been awhile since I heard one outside of a book. Who’d like to be the first to change that?



2 Responses to “Staying True to the Story”

  1. August 6, 2007 at 2:41 pm

    Hi Britt
    I like bold stories too and its why I came to work at Dell. We certainly fumbled the ball and we have admitted that, especially on customer service.

    Its why we now reach out to customers with issues in the blogosphere and spend $150 million extra last year for new technologies, more training, new staff in tech support. You can read a three part interview at serviceuntitled with Dick Hunter, our lead customer support person.

    We are not perfect but we are trying hard to get back to our bold story. As a 20 year old company that learns from its mistakes and moves ahead, focused on customers, building relationships and making IT simpler everyday…..give us time? I am hopeful

  2. 2 Britt
    August 6, 2007 at 6:27 pm


    Thank you for the comment. I agree that Dell has gotten better at matching its actions to the story it’s telling. That’s why I bought a new Dell three months ago, and why I’ve suggested that family members buy two other Dells within the last year.

    I’ve also experienced the real-time chat customer service. Your techs were helpful and solved my problems. I only hope that Dell continues to be proactive rather than reactive. Good luck.



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August 2007
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