We are starting on a new research direction at the lab. When I first started drawing up plans describing this direction, I listed a set of projects we might work on.
It all sounded ok, but it wasn’t particularly exciting. The word “project” can evoke the idea of something you do because it needs doing. Like the “project” of repainting your bedroom or cleaning out the garage.
But then I changed things a bit, and started describing the same capabilities as “super powers”. Instead of stuff we need to implement, things are now framed in terms of cool new abilities we will end up having when we are done.
Suddenly the whole thing reads like something exciting — a grand and even epic adventure. I think there is a principle at work here:
In order to create excitement, it’s not sufficient to describe something. You need to create a compelling narrative. If you want to really inspire somebody, tell them a good story.