The simple act of telling a story well helps the audience believe that the story is actually happening to them. Whether you’re pitching a product idea to a group of users or to your team, the well-told story resonates. It identifies the key players. It describes the conflict. And as the plot unfolds, it delivers the narrative and dialogue that best describes their journeys. And at the story’s climax, it reveals how the conflict is resolved.
In this episode of the Product Momentum Podcast, Sean and Paul catch up with Mark Cruth, part-time storyteller and full-time Enterprise Solutions Architect at Atlassian. When product managers weave just the right narrative, Mark says, we help our teams connect the dots between themselves and the experience they’re creating for users. We help them understand who they are, who their users are, what their mission is, and how they add value to the organization’s larger ambitions. In other words, we Weave in their Why.
Tune in to the pod as Mark weaves his own engaging narrative about the power of storytelling.
[02:17] The difference between user stories and storytelling.
[03:29] Knowing your persona(s).
[03:55] Anti-patterns – e.g., does our product serve only one persona?
[06:57] Storytelling is how we talk to people, how we sell them on our ideas.
[07:53] Oxytocin, dopamine, and cortisol.
[10:25] Use the backlog to tell the story of your product’s evolution.
[11:26] Value stream mapping the product backlog to describe your user’s journey as a narrative.
[12:29] How the story plays out in product, we can build a better experience.
[14:59] Integrate a team of teams to weave the story together.
[17:06] Rapid prototyping to potential users.
[18:21] Build advocacy by sharing the product story with users and the product team; both benefit by knowing what the next stage will be.
[20:54] Communicating value. “Hey, we contribute to this part of the journey.”
[21:45] Product Manager tip #1: Ask your teams to create their own canvas; talk about who they are, who their customers are, what their mission is, how they add value.
[24:47] Product Manager tip #2. Ask yourself: When we implement this, what do we expect to happen? Make it a quantitative metric…and then measure it over time.
[30:20] Connect the dots from the organization’s strategic level down to each individual user story.
[31:36] What’s the why? Stories have a way of helping organizations discover their why and communicating it to their teams.
[33:11] Innovation. Innovation is something that we do all the time. It’s allowing ourselves to let go of our preconceived notions and think differently. Thinking differently, that’s innovation.
Mark’s Recommended Reading
Long Story Short, The Only Storytelling Guide You’ll Ever Need, by Margot Leitman.
Mark Cruth is an Enterprise Solutions Architect with Atlassian, working with organizations around the world to improve the connection between the work being done and the goals being pursued with the help of Jira Align.
An Agile advocate since 2009, Mark has made it his mission to inject the values and principles of Agile into everything he does. His deep knowledge in Agile product development and team dynamics stem from his diverse experience supporting transformation and value delivery as an Agile Coach, Scrum Master, and Product Owner across several different industries, including Manufacturing, eCommerce, Big Data, and FinTech.
When not heads-down in the latest book on self-management or deep in conversation with a leadership team, Mark can be found reading one of his favorite sci-fi novels (specifically anything by Brandon Sanderson) or playing with Legos with his kids.