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011 // Protect Your Solutions with Transformation Stories: Part 2 — Telling Well

Image with text. Text reads: Ideas from Dawan for people who think and solve like a designer.

Prefer to listen? Here’s the podcast episode associated with this article.

A transformation story is what every new product, service, or system we create needs to escape from the status quo’s gravity and give it a shot at finding a stable orbit. The struggle to tell stories is part of the sensemaking dance that produces our innovations and adaptations.

When we create something new or adapt something for new purposes, we create a magic bridge. The bridge is magic because it takes people to a place where they can do something they couldn’t do before. Magic bridge also sounds better than “an innovation.” A transformation story lets people see themselves crossing that bridge, shows why it’s worth it, and makes the journey look easy and familiar.

Transformation stories aren’t about the bridge; they are about what the bridge can do for someone. A good transformation story helps people understand the new powers they’ll activate by crossing the magic bridge. What will their new powers help them do? Who will they become by crossing the magic bridge and activating their new powers?

Storytelling neglect happens in two ways: failing to craft a transformation story, and failing to tell a transformation story. Part 1 was about crafting our transformation stories well. This part offers a quick way to make sure we don’t do the hard work to craft a great transformation story and then wreck it in the telling.

To save a transformation story from telling failures, use Fluid Hive’s Story Shield Checklist from time to time:

Start with Story
__ Is our transformation story guiding everything we do?
__ Are we making decisions with our transformation story in mind?
__ Are our actions consistent with the story we’re telling?

__ Are we talking about the topics that matter most to the people we serve?
__ Are we using the same words and terms they do?
__ Are we talking about the kind of successful outcomes and better world the people we serve need or desire?

Shape Shift
__ Are we telling our transformation story in the micro, small, regular, big and epic sizes from the tagline on up?
__ For the smaller sizes, are we regularly asking, “what piece of our story will help people most here?”

Do 360
__ Are we telling our story from multiple perspectives?
__ Are we speaking to the different ways of making decisions and valuing outcomes that the people we serve bring to our transformation story?

Be Bold
__ Are we ensuring people will encounter our transformation story?
__ Are we ensuring they will encounter enough pieces of the story to see themselves journeying to the better world?

Be Natural
__ Are we telling our story in places where people are already paying attention?
__ Are we making it easy for people to scan our content?

Always Ask
__ Are we asking people to take the first step?
__ Are we showing every next step and asking people to take it?
__ Are we asking consistently?

Avoid Spandex
__ Are we making sure that the heroes in the transformation story are the people we serve?

The Transformation Story Questions and Story Shield Questions help us avoid storytelling failure while doing what matters most — helping the people we serve use our solution to create their better world. To help you create your next transformation story, or enhance an existing story, I created a storytelling Ask Like a Designer Thinking Tool. Download it here to give your stories more of what it takes to create the transformation you seek for the people you serve.

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