CM08: Using effective storytelling to gain product alignment w/ James Utley & Sarah Reid
Welcome to Custom Made — our new weekly podcast that explores the many traits of successful product development.
This is episode #008 and today I’m joined for another episode by Dialexa’s Head of Design Research, Sarah Reid, and Design Architect, James Utley. They both joined me a couple of weeks ago to discuss “Using lean design research to get to ‘the why’ of your product”.
At Dialexa we have the opportunity to work with a range of clients from funded startups to enterprise organizations — and a lot of these companies are looking to bring a new product to market. Whether that is a consumer-facing product, or a product to improve business operations, there is always the need to get buy-in from across your organization and from potential users for a product that doesn’t yet exist in any form.
And that is why this week we are talking about how effective storytelling can unify a product vision, build empathy, validate ideas, and communicate your product value to key stakeholders and users.
Let me go back a bit in time a bit, say back to sometime between 15,000 and 13,000 B.C., to the Lascaux Caves in the Pyrenees Mountains in southern France where the earliest form of storytelling has been recorded. On the cave walls, someone drew a variety of animals and one image of a human being. When closely examined, this mural of sorts actually follows a very simplistic series of events. It tells of rituals performed and hunting practices. It tells a story.
Effective storytelling has been key to helping listeners image and feel what the speaker was describing, and it is as valuable today as it was back in that cave in southern France.
In a previous episode I spoke with Dialexa’s Chief Creative Officer, Steven Ray, on the value of design in product development — and how if a picture paints a thousand words, then a product sketch is more powerful than a feature list.
Well if you are even earlier in the product development process where you are trying to get alignment on your product vision, gain budget and resources to start designing and developing, and communicating with early potential users — then you need to be effective in how you are telling the story about this new product.
During this episode we are exploring what are the steps to successful storytelling, what techniques can you use to structure your story — for example using the hero’s journey framework:
or the 5 e’s framework (Entice, Enter, Engage, Exit, and Extend):
- Entice. What event triggers a user to enter into the UX funnel?
- Enter. What are the first few steps in the UX funnel?
- Engage. What task(s) is the user trying to accomplish?
- Exit. How does the user complete the task?
- Extend. What follow-up actions occur after the user completes the task?
and how to really leverage personas during your product’s design and development phases.
Throughout our conversation James & Sarah mention a number of great resources, here are some quick links to help you check them out:
- Change by Design by Tom Brown
- Malcolm Gladwell — Outliers (10,000 Hours)
- Adam Ruins Everything
- Jon Kolko — Founder of Austin Center for Design
- Resonate by Nancy Duarte
- How to Design TED-worthy Presentation Slides
- Well Designed: How to use empathy to create products people love
You can catch James & Sarah’s full Custom Made episode here:
Here are some of the memorable moments from James & Sarah’ episode of Custom Made:
- The inspiration behind effective storytelling
- Being stuck in today
- What are the steps to successful storytelling?
- What makes up a compelling story
- Bringing your persona to life
- Does your audience affect the story you are telling
- Recommended resources
And, if you prefer to listen on the go, you can get all episodes of Custom Made on these platforms and many more. Do subscribe on your favorite platform to catch each episode as it is released, and let me know any feedback, questions, and recommendations on twitter @dougplatts.