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Slides Dave Skrobela recently used in his discussion w/ mentees of The Product Mentor.
Synopsis: Storytelling can be a powerful tool for a PM. We’ll take a look at some examples of effective techniques to ensure you’re telling the story you want to tell, whether that is directly in the user experience or supporting the ongoing management of the product.
The Product Mentor is a program designed to pair Product Mentors and Mentees from around the World, across all industries, from start-up to enterprise, guided by the fundamental goals…Better Decisions. Better Products. Better Product People.
Throughout the program, each mentor leads a conversation in an area of their expertise that is live streamed and available to both mentee and the broader product community.
Founder, Context First
I started my career in product-related work as a
consultant, building and implementing web content
management systems and supporting infrastructure
for clients across multiple industries (Consumers
Union, Standard & Poor’s, Creative Artist Agency).
For the past 13 years, I’ve been focused on
education technology, managing the launch of
digital products at The College Board, Teach For
America, and Centris Group. I am currently running
a consulting shop, Context First, that helps
organizations with early-stage product concept
validation and business case development.
First, a Moment of Levity
"Storytelling is one of the dumbest new media
words of the decade - it sounds fancy and
means nothing yet gets thrown around
- @BillSimmons, twitter, May 3, 2016
OK, then does it really mean anything?
We’ve been telling and sharing stories since the dawn of time
Consistent research supports the power of stories to inspire, motivate,
From a very early age (2-3 yrs old) we use stories to start to make sense
of the world
…..the short answer is YES
So how do we cut through the jargon?
It’s clear that storytelling has become, in 2016, a bit of a media and
But that’s because it’s an incredibly powerful–and timeless–way to
connect, communicate and drive change. It’s trending because brands,
businesses and marketers have discovered that this powerhouse is also
“In an era when any one of us can create, publish and share anything
we choose, great storytelling has become the differentiator.”1
Pixar filmmaker Andrew Stanton famously compared storytelling to joke
telling. “It’s knowing your punchline, your ending, knowing that everything
you’re saying, from the first sentence to the last, is leading to a singular
1 - http://www.echostories.com/ (Fundamentals of a Great Business Story)
Putting this in the context of business
Storytelling continues to grow in business because it’s an
established and effective method of communication
When using storytelling in business, the most common
goals are to persuade, influence, and motivate your
Stories are accounts of real or imaginary
events that engage the audience in a
purposefully direct and interactive
So what makes up a good story?
Challenge or Conflict
Why should we care?
What should we do?
How will we get it done?
QUESTIONS YOUR STORY
The CAR Framework
Context Action Result
What formats can we use to tell our
Storyboards / Customer Journey Maps
A complete, robust story can be told with a single (or a few) visualizations
Product managers increasingly are being asked to become data journalists
Source – Flowing Data, Nathan Yau
Basic Structure of Data Stories
Source – Miriam Gilbert, Storytelling with Numbers
Beginning (context) – Start
with a background and
point(s) of reference
Middle (discovery) – Explain
challenges, proposals for
change, and insights that lead
to confirm new solutions
End (conclusion) – Include
suggested next steps
Bringing it back to product work
Source – Sarah Doody | Knowing your users & their stories
Stories can help to clearly define the Why. Since it’s always critical
to start here, stories are one of the most natural ways to start the
As we move our teams through the What and How, we can
continuously refer to our stories to help ensure alignment
Who is our story for or about?
Investors / Executives
Colleagues / Team
Allows us to explore
the spaces our
customers and users
connection to the
Helps them to
understand and truly
support the work
Using Stories To Promote The Product
Stories can be an important tool when we are pitching our
product (or a new idea for a product feature) to investors,
executives, colleagues, even customers
Using Stories IN Our Product
Here we use an individual’s
story to describe his
experience going to college
It helps to firm up the value
proposition of the product
(college search tool) and
engages a specific audience
Stories also important to create engagement in the product
Using Stories IN Our Product
Here we see an example
of how stories are deeply
embedded in the product
experience…in fact, they
are the primary means of
communicating to the
Why is this so effective?
Visitors to the site are the ones sharing stories with other visitors to the site. They have
shared experience(s) and backgrounds. It is their stories that most effectively build
trust in the overarching content and messaging of the site.
Reference – youcango.collegeboard.org
Using Stories FOR Our Product Team
Motivating Current Team
Members and Colleagues
Build a story into your vision
statement; get people to “buy
in” via the story you tell
Use your own story or a
customer story to help reinforce
the “Why” behind a new feature
Recruiting New Team Members
and Building the Brand
Stories can be a powerful tool
to build your team and the
reputation of your product
Where can I learn more?
Center for Digital Storytelling
Harvard Business Review
Lead With a Story
Storytelling with Data
Storytelling with Numbers
And because there’s a periodic table
for almost everything….
Source – designtaxi.com