Storytelling In Product Management
“Those who tell the stories rule the world.” — Hopi American Indian proverb
Stories are an integral part of human development. We grew up listening to and reading various stories. Stories are one of the best communication mediums that work across countries, borders, audiences and generations.
But why do we love stories so much?
Many years ago, a team of scientists discovered a neurological connection between stories and the area of the brain which is responsible for empathy, compassion and cooperation. These feelings ― controlled by a chemical called oxytocin ― tend to increase when we are told stories that resonate with us.
But storytelling in product management?
Every story has a hero, an obstacle, a guide, a villain and a story world.
For PMs user is the hero, the user problem is the obstacle, various teams involved in the product are the guide, a bad user experience is the villain, and the product itself is the story world.
Yes! As a PM you are like the director of the story. And you have to do a lot of storytelling on day to day basis.
Let me explain!
Identify user pain points:
What does the hero want? What are his struggles? What will happen if his problem is not solved?
This is the core of product management and the majority of the PMs spend huge time defining these and coming up with solutions.
To identify user pain points, they define different user personas by stepping into the shoes of the user and deciphering their thought process.
And how do PMs do this?
Using storyboarding and defining user journey map. And both these techniques use storytelling as their base.
Defining product vision, strategy and roadmap:
Does a story make sense without a purpose? The answer is no!
Similarly, as a PM it's significant to know: Why are we defining this story? Why this way only?
The purpose is the heart of a story and the product.
Thus, product vision, strategy and road map play a vital role to define the purpose and getting the entire team on board.
Communicating the product to different stakeholders involved:
PMs cross collaborate with product, tech, sales, business and support teams to ensure business case and customer satisfaction goals are met.
Without sharing the why behind the story, is it easy for the audience to engage? No right?
Similarly, if all the stakeholders involved in a product do not empathise with the end-user, they will find it hard to take that extra mile to solve the user's problem. To ensure effective communication with the team, PMs use their story maps and user journey maps.
Defining the user interface and experience:
The essence of the story world is the experience it gives to the audience when they actually dive into it. Most of us have a favourite story world that we always want to revisit.
Similarly, the PM needs to define the product in such a way that the user does not have a hard time using it.
Every business has a product. Every product has a story and it is important to communicate this to the end-users to have a great user experience making the user not want to leave the product. The 4 laws of behaviour change can be applied to define a great user experience. Check: Product Management to learn from ATOMIC HABITS!
“It’s not about the product. It’s about how it makes user feel”
Explaining the product to the user:
The hero has to face an obstacle, but he does not believe in your solutions. How will you convince him to use your solution?
Directly or indirectly PMs also define the structures that convince the end-user to actually use the product.
Using stories, here again, helps PMs not only convince the user but also build their trust.
The usage of storytelling in product management is endless. To summarize, it is in the hands of a PM to define the user journey. It is up to him to take the hero on a simple, engaging and fun-filled journey or a roller coaster ride that he would never want to re-take.