Sequoia’s James Buckhouse on why product design should start with a story

James Buckhouse, founder of the Sequoia Creative Lab and a self-described “storyteller”, will be the first to tell you that that the word “storytelling” is a total buzzword.

“There’s no faster way to make people actively ignore you and hate you for no good reason than to tell them you’re a storyteller,” he says. “The story is what motivates us. The story is what helps us find meaning in not just our momentary actions, but in our long-term actions.”

At Intercom, we’ve written at length about designing products through a Jobs-to-be-Done lens, where you start by identifying the jobs your product needs to solve for your users. Buckhouse, on the other hand, starts with a story, by taking design, engineering, and product through a storyboarding process he adapted from a previous life as an animator at Dreamworks.

I’ve always thought of design as this long, interwoven story of a person’s daily life, and a person’s every moment. And the things that we make are multipliers, augmentations to that.

In the latest episode of the Inside Intercom podcast, Stewart Scott-Curran, who heads up brand design at Intercom, talks to James about the role of storytelling in product design. James shares his framework for teams to uncover their own product story, advice for working with founders, how to listen, and much more.

Click the play button to listen below or head to our blog for the full transcript.

Intercom makes messaging apps for businesses that help them understand and talk to customers.

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