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Two of this week's coaching sessions shone a very bright light on how storylining is about much more than ‘putting words on a page'. It's about surfacing the ideas that we want to convey.
So, this week I want to focus on how you can use a storyline rather than how you build one.
Let me give you the high level story first and then explain by way of example.
- As you know, a storyline is a tool for mapping ideas, which can also be described as a ‘thinking machine'.
- The thinking rules that make the ‘machine' work provide an opportunity to use storylines to develop our strategies not just describe them.
- So, I encourage you to collaborate as you follow the storyline planner steps to develop and describe your own strategies
As you know, a storyline is a tool for mapping your ideas, which can also be described as a thinking machine. One of my old colleagues used to call it an ‘insight engine'.
If we understand the rules that hold our ideas together we can test whether the ideas on a page ‘fit'. If they don't, we can use the rules to work out what is wrong and to strengthen or replace the ‘misfit' ideas.
This both pushes and guides us so we think harder and communicate more impactfully because our ideas are more impactful.
In the classic sense, we can use storylines to prepare our communication so we engage our audiences better.
However, the thinking rules that make the ‘machine' work provide an opportunity to use storylines to develop our strategies, not just describe them. This can be particularly effective when we collaborate with our colleagues.
This is where this week's coaching comes in.
In both sessions we needed to prepare a story that the participants would deliver to their senior leadership in our final workshop together.
The stories needed to be practical and focus on live problems that were substantive enough to engage their leaders.
The challenge for these two groups was that they were not in the midst of a natural paper cycle, and so didn't have anything big enough to share.
Our solution was to use our storylining session to address a problem that they had not yet thought through fully and come up with a solution.
In one case the team developed a strategy for fine tuning their recent organisational transformation to agile ways of working. In the other, they did two things. They
- developed a new business case template that enabled them to use a storyline to convey their case in two pages rather than the eight that the previous template had required.
- pitched and gained approval for the new template from their Tribe lead and CEO in the final Wrap workshop
It worked a treat, so I wanted to explain how we used the storyline as a tool to help them work out what their strategy was, not just communicate it.
So, I encourage you to collaborate as you follow the storyline planner steps to develop and describe your own strategies. Here are some steps to take if that is your situation:
- Download the storyline planning template to guide your process.
- Work through the four sections, spending a fair chunk of time on the first ‘brainstorm' section so you can download your ideas. You may like to involve a colleague in this part of the process to draw out the key ideas. They don't need any special storylining knowledge to do this with you.
- If you can, work with a colleague to shape the storyline too, testing the rigour of your thinking as you go. If you need to work independently, then take the one-pager and share that with a colleague or two to test your ideas further.
- Come back to the Ten Point Test after you have received feedback and further refine your storyline to make sure the ideas fit both the structure and your purpose.
- Prepare any document you need to share your strategy with decision makers or those who may need to act on it.
So, even though we are using a communication technique here, it has a deeper purpose which you can take advantage of once you really lean into the storylining rules.
I hope that helps and look forward to seeing you at our upcoming working sessions.