Tag Archives: PowerApps4Kids

SCARF – The 5 things that REALLY get people motivated

And how they relate to Storytelling with Data

I took a look at a book recently by David Rock called Your Brain at Work. I must admit that I didn’t hold much hope out for it, but I thought I would give it a go.  

5 years on from originally reading it I found that the points resonated for me as being applicable to Storytelling with Data. 

If you want to tell a story that the audience will listen to, you need to make them care, and I very much suspect if you have the points below in mind you’ll have a chance of being successful with getting the attention of the audience.
There were quite a lot of passages that were helpful such as prioritise prioritising (i.e. Prioritise what you need to do it as the first thing of the day) but the part that resonated the most for me was the section around how the brain is geared for survival. Essentially we walk towards reward, but run from danger and when we are running from danger it is hard to think properly and deeply. The book then went on to categorise these domains using the SCARF model where each letter signifies a certain domain as follows:-


It’s difficult for any of us to say that we are not affected by status in some way, but it may take different forms. There are those of us who seek this through job titles, salary, a bigger desk, not having to make the tea etc and there are also those who might achieve status through recognition by peers and so on.


The caveman in all of us craves certainty, because certainty means survival. In the real world this might translate to holding onto your role, knowing where the next client is going to come from or, quite often, what the next request might be from customers and clients you service, and whether you might live up to this.


This is around the degree of control over what we do and when we do it. This is particularly relevant in the manager/subordinate relationship. Most, but not all people, seek autonomy and this can impact on management style.  The Brexit argument delivered via the bus is primarily about autonomy.


Mankind’s success has been in large part due to it’s ability to act as a collective and we build maps in our minds over time where we are socially connected. Facebook probably has an awful lot to thank for this attribute.  Whilst this isn’t borne out in the Brexit bus example it is true to say that “loneliness” is extremely toxic for humans because in times gone by this would equate to a very short life.


Everyone likes a bit of fairness, but one persons fairness is not the same as another’s. The Brexit bus pulls out this emotion very well and even uses the colour red to emphasise the point.
When you’re telling your stories, keep these points in mind, if you pick up on just one of them you may find your audience more attentive and your message better received.  I’ll be exploring this further in the weeks and months to come.