The secret of humans success is their capacity to create fictions and largely cooperate around those. No other species are able to align themselves around non real things such as “values”, “laws”, or “Business”. Our brain capacity to organise effectively around imaginary things developed in us an unique capability that became the main driver of human history : storytelling.
Business development is not appart of it. A successful business is a good story about entrepreneur’s mission, her client aspirations, and the unfolded offering of products and services.
A Canvas or A Story ?
In entrepreneurship and business areas, defining a Canvas is THE THING. I do like canvases it’s a good tool to describe a container, and containers are every change-maker’s tool. For example, I love Ash Mayura’s Lean Canvas. I wrote a bunch of articles on Lean Canvas one of the the most effective business awareness enabler’s in the Lean Startup landscape. Canvases is reassuring for our linear cause-to-effect thinking. And it’s not enough to trigger stuff our fuzzy-creative thinking enjoy like inspiration, innovation and enthusiasm. Our brain is story-wired. What makes us move forward are stories. Therefore, here is the challenge: transform a canvas into a story. A mix of storytelling techniques mapped on the Lean Canvas, I decided to call the “Storytelling Product Canvas”.
Step 1: Envisioning: What is the (product) story about?
When a novelist writes a story, the first think is to decide what kind of story she wants to write:
“Boy meets girl?”
“Girl meets success?”
… and so on.
When an entrepreneur wants to build a business, ultimately she believes her idea will make the world better, at least for someone. If you think this is a too idealistic way to see the world and believe entrepreneurs have ideas only to have money and be successful, I invite you to test the market by launching an idea with the outstanding outcome to make you rich and successful.
While waiting for the market study mentioned before, let’s name the first section of the Storytelling product Canvas, “Envisioning”. The question to answer here by an entrepreneur starting her business is “Why will my product create a better world?”
Step 2: Customers: Who’s story is this ( product story)?
When decided as an entrepreneur what is your vision about your business building a better world, the very next question is: “Who’s world?”
Just like heroes of a story, your product is aimed to create a compelling story about its users. This story is sometimes called User Experience.
Just like a writer who makes tons of studies to shape a good character entrepreneurs should observe their users and customers to be. An entrepreneur organises “customer safaris” to observe their life and their environment, to note their behavior without judgment.
Modesty – the key of a balanced business
A big challenge of an entrepreneur is to push her judgments over customers behaviour. In our easy path of blaming others, biasing what customers should want, is an easy trap to fall into. For this reason, one of the main skills an entrepreneur should develop is Active Observation along with Active Listening : Listen to understand and let surprising ideas emerge, rather than observing to confirm our former ideas. Confirmation Bias is one of the main daemons of Entrepreneurship.
Customers’ Status Quo
In a good story, a novelist sets the stage: describes what is the environment of the characters, what is appealing and or constraining in that environment so that characters stick to it. The same apply to entrepreneurship. A “customer Safari” is an enabler to discover their “status quo”. As an entrepreneur, you can find out how your users to be deal in their current daily context with the activities your business is aimed to improve.
Status Quo has always an emotional load. Find out what is that load: is it painful, soaring, joyful…
Making a better world through an eventually innovative business will necessarily have an emotional impact on characters , euh… users and customers , of course. Start early by observing those!
Temporary 😉 Conclusion
The former paragraphs describe the initial 2 steps of starting a new business with a “product storytelling” perspective:
Envisioning: What is your vision of a better world?
Customers : Who are they? What is their actual context ( Status Quo)?
Dear reader, if this post raised some curiosity and interest, let me know and.I’ll develop the other sections of my “product storytelling canvas” in future posts.
Until then here are some related posts: