Design begins with Story.

Storytelling was the original design practice. Through oral histories, fables and proverbs we told stories that met human needs for learning, remembering and envisioning the future – the ‘what might be’ and ‘how might we’ that has been the essence of innovation and design from the beginning.

Here’s the TLDR:

  • Storytelling inspires ideas and creates a vision for the future that requires design
  • Design is the process of making outcomes and as that outcome changes the human experience (or the story) more designs are required generating momentum
  • Momentum is what powers growth and change but we require ways of harnessing that momentum into meaningful direction, this is called navigation
  • Navigation gives you the ability to harness your momentum towards meaningful direction but that direction is decided by the biggest picture outcome – focusing energy and momentum towards an idea of the future. I call this strategy
  • Strategy is best conveyed through storytelling, conveying outcomes from measurable data into meaningful insights allowing for our original stories to change and adapt as we solve the ‘beyond the beyond’

From storytelling we begin designing. If stories generate ideas, it’s design that brings them to life – functional and meaningful existence. Our design outcomes generate momentum. New stories and design outcomes emerging as one innovation leads to another .. I call this the ‘beyond the beyond’.

As sailors we learn the practical skills of navigation and harnessing momentum before we head out of the harbour. It’s the uniquely hireable and desirable ability to ‘get it done’. It’s when we leave the harbour we need the ability to read the stars and the currents to find our way to new shores or familiar places.

Momentum creates a new need; for navigation. The ability to harness and steer your momentum in the best possible direction. But to be truly powerful, the skills of navigation require a compass point. As sailors we learn the practical skills of navigation and harnessing momentum before we head out of the harbour. It’s the uniquely hireable and desirable ability to ‘get it done’. It’s when we leave the harbour we need the ability to read the stars and the currents to find our way to new shores or familiar places.

The navigator, the helmsman or sailor who can get you around the course is not always the tactician. From navigation we come back around to strategy, how we plan or agree our destination on the map. This brings us back to storytelling as a design exercise.

…the story is both the outcome and the strategy to get to the outcome.

When I work with people in strategic planning, marketing strategies, product roadmaps and content design – I use principles of storytelling and design to get us to a functioning, future-focused roadmap to the future. What stories from the past can we grasp hold of and use to inform our future innovations? What new quadrants are there to be explored but what resource do we have to get there? What might we discover and what might we learn as we go?

So we arrive back at the beginning of the process – designing outcomes through storytelling, where the story is both the outcome and the strategy to get to the outcome. Coming up with a plan is never enough, you need a compelling story that engages and helps steer the momentum whether you are telling the story of your organisation, product or your own life.

Storytelling > design > momentum > navigation > strategy > storytelling.

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