Supercharge your cyber decision making skills with storytelling

Humans have told stories for millennia, from Neanderthal cave paintings dating back 64,000 years to the oral traditions of the ancient Greeks. Technology has evolved this innate ability, unique in the animal kingdom, to a more dynamic state in recent years, with videos, GIFs and memes – the elements that keep us glued to our social feeds – joining traditional methods such as text and illustration. But while we are entertained by stories, they aren’t solely for fun. They’re also about learning and making information stick, and it’s here that their near-mystical properties become apparent.

Stories facilitate learning because of the emotional connection we form with them. When you tell a child they must learn to count money in order to pass a test, they’ll fail to see its relevance in their fight for flourishment. Who can blame them? But tell them they need to count money so they can buy a puppy or an ice cream – just a flicker of a story – and you’ll get a quite different reaction. Stories put people of all ages into a hypnotic, curious state; they make us less critical and more receptive, creating ideal conditions for learning.

Stories then are great educational tools, but this is by no means a revelation. The personified animals of Aesop’s Fables (think the Tortoise and the Hare) have been teaching us morality since around 600 BC, while ancient Indian fable collection the Panchatantra serves the same purpose in Sanskrit. But it’s not just great truths that can be garnered from stories. You can supercharge the memorability of any subject using an engaging narrative; and that includes technical fields such as mathematics, physics, and even cybersecurity. Cognitive psychologist Jerome Bruner posits that we are 22 times more likely to remember a fact when it’s wrapped up in a story for several reasons:

Stories are universal

Storytelling transcends culture, race, and class. It’s a proven way to engage many people simultaneously, which is crucial when it comes to learning because humans absorb information in different ways. Whether you’re a visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learner, stories will appeal to you, especially those using rich media.

Stories make us care

We forge emotional connections with stories, and this in turn makes us care. They also trigger the release of oxytocin (dubbed the ‘cuddle drug’ because of its release during prolonged skin contact), which puts us in a relaxed and trusting state. This inevitably means our guard comes down, and we can absorb information easily – something amplified when characters reflect our own emotions and experiences.

Storytelling is respectful of learners

Nothing is duller than sitting in a classroom environment while a hifalutin expert explains that X = Y. Unlike tedious traditional teaching methods storytelling is respectful of the learner, granting them the freedom to draw conclusions without instruction. In a co-written article for Harvard Business Publishing, professional psychologist and storyteller Lani Peterson says, ‘Good stories can contain multiple meanings, so they’re surprisingly economical in conveying complex ideas in graspable ways. And stories are more engaging than a dry recitation of data points or a discussion of abstract ideas.’

At Immersive Labs we believe in pairing gamification and self-guided learning with the power of storytelling; it’s a surefire way to engage cyber talent and has worked brilliantly in our narrative-driven Immersive Originals series. But we’ve taken this a step further in our new product, the Cyber Crisis Simulator.

Storytelling in the Cyber Crisis Simulator

Physical tabletop exercising using PowerPoint slides was previously the only way to explore your business’s cyber crisis response capability, but this technique is limited: not only are the scenarios detached from real emerging threats, they’re difficult – if not impossible – to scale to the needs of larger organizations and lack visibility around the decision-making process.

Immersive Labs’ Cyber Crisis Simulator is an online solution that drops defenders into real-time cyber crises. The system challenges teams to make critical decisions when dealing with emerging incidents such as ransomware outbreaks, insider threats, data breaches, and spear-phishing attacks, often based on real-world cyber events. These responsive scenarios create rich, realistic storylines that twist and turn based on the choices your people make, transporting learners from their office surroundings into an alternate reality where every decision counts.

In his book Story Proof: The Science Behind the Startling Power of Story, Kendall Haven says that stories about professional mistakes and what leaders learned from them are a great avenue for learning because ‘people identify so closely with stories, imagining how they would have acted in similar circumstances, they’re able to work through situations in a way that’s risk free.’ This is true of the Cyber Crisis Simulator, whose scenarios are designed to drive your organization’s cyber resilience and prepare your people to face the real-world consequences of a cyber incident.

If you think the Cyber Crisis Simulator would benefit your organization, book a demo below. Alternatively, join our webcast on Tuesday 21 July 2020 with Immersive Labs' Tech Advocate, Chris Pace, and Goldman Sachs' CISO, Phil Venables.

Register for the webcast here

2 July 2020

We help businesses to increase and evidence human capability in every part of cybersecurity.