- What is storytelling?
- What’s the purpose of stories?
- How to become a great storyteller?
- How to apply stories in agile environments?
Wrap-up of a discussion of professionals in the agile field during the weekly PoDoJo Skype Chat on 23.05.2013.
What is storytelling?
- Storytelling is an activity to share complex content and insights.
- Storytelling a very old human activity with patterns derived from myths that are still working today, to tell a story that sticks and triggers emotions. In Hollywood, the book "The writers journey - mystic structures for storytellers and screenwriters" by Christopher Vogler was very influential.
What’s the purpose of stories?
- Stephen Denning describes stories and how they are used for different purposes
- Dave Snowden states: "Stories are agents in a social complex system."
- Stories capture procedural knowledge and create empathy. Stories are much more effective to transfer knowledge than just pure data or abstract descriptions.
- There are "user stories" in Scrum to describe functions, sales stories in marketing, and stories about prototypes in product development.
- Stories relay the product vision, supported by a physical metaphor like lego or a “product box”.
- Stories make the team aware of the context of a task or series of tasks, in software for example to get down to why what is done how to reach whatever goal.
How to become a great storyteller?
- Use the right words and speak in a universal language your team understands well.
- Study the basic principles, like developing in movie authoring, or even in myths and fairytales. Use the basic elements of drama to tell a compelling, strong story about a product or service innovation you have in your mind.
- Just do it and gauge the emotions that come back at you.
How to apply stories in agile environments?
- If you compare customer journey visualization, based on subsequent actions of users of a (digital) service, with a storyline of a novel or film script, you'll see they resemble very much to each other.
- Stories provide a tool to prototype a solution in its early stage. They are like a spoken sketch.
- Use personas and their actions as a basic storyline (represented by a user journey) to visualize elements of a story, or sketches of a cartoon, or even a film or text.
- Stories add more content to your personas. They come to live within the stories. Tell the story of a user (persona, the hero), describe the setting he's in, and his efforts to solve a problem by looking for and using a (software-based) service, turning his problem into a new success.
- In a team setting, it’s a way of brainstorming. You may tell a story about your vision, others listen, and maybe repeat it with changes or additions.
- In a retrospective, it’s a great exercise to start a story, and let each person add new parts to the story – either themed, or open ended.
- A cultural hack creates an event that is best communicated by a story. Create an event -> create a story -> spread it -> create change in culture. That's what Francis Alys does in his piece 'When Faith Moves Mountains".