May 31, 2016

Article at Denise Withers

Story Design Training: THNK School of Creative Leadership (project overview)

The THNK School of Creative Leadership runs project-based programs to teach mid-career professionals design, innovation and entrepreneurial skills. They needed a course for their capstone that would help students pull their work together into cohesive strategies and stories they could use to take their projects to the next level.

I designed a workshop that showed them how to use a version of my Story Canvas to structure their proposed approaches as future stories with clear connections between customer needs, strategies, activities and outcomes. Once complete, the Canvas would also provide a ready-to-share story that could be used to engage funders, customers and partners in the journey.

As I taught the course, it became clear that some students were still struggling with their core purpose and value proposition – while others were ready to start working on prototypes. Both groups were able to use story design tools to move forward. I worked with those still struggling to help them workshop stories that made their ideas specific, with real people, places and challenges, which forced them to move from abstract ideas to tangible solutions. At the same time, those ready to move on used story tools like improv and role-play to start to test out their proposed strategies from the Canvas.

By the time the course ended, most students had clear definitions of the problems they needed to solve, and several had made major pivots in their business models, after realizing they were focused on the wrong problem or customer.

Additional feedback also indicated that many students found this course to be the most useful part of the program, confirming that they would use the Story Canvas again on future projects.