Storytelling in a technical world

a course for managers and engineers

Our technical world is governed by facts. In this world Excel files, specifications and technical details are everywhere. Yet, too often, this way of looking at the world makes us forget that the goal of our job is not to fulfill technical requests. Our job is to produce value.

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Feedback is the central source of agile value. The most effective way to obtain feedback from stakeholders is a demo. Good demos engage. They materialize your ideas and put energies in motion. They spark the imagination and uncover hidden assumptions. They make feedback flow.

But, if a demo is the means to value, shouldn't preparing the demo be a significant concern? Should it not be part of the definition of done? If so, why is the demo mostly prepared at the last minute?

That is not even all. A good demo tells a story about the system. This means that the system can tell that story. This also means that you have to make the system tell that story. Not a user story full of facts. A story that makes users want to use the system. That tiny concern can change the way you build your system.

Many things go well when demos come out right.

Demoing is a skill, and like any skill, it can be trained. Regardless of the subject, there always is an exciting demo lurking underneath. It just takes you to find it. And to do it.

Target audience

This course exercises the dormant skill of storytelling. It is addressed essentially to everyone involved (or interested to be involved) in software development because we need everyone to share the same goal, and storytelling is a way to get everyone on the same boat regardless of the job description.

Course outline

What is value and how do you design for it?

  • Value and innovation
  • The problem of hidden assumptions

Present to get feedback

  • Why present?
  • Presenting as storytelling
  • Presenting and visuals
  • Presenting as a skill that can be trained
  • Exercises

Demos matter even more

  • Don’t demo facts. Demo stories
  • Make systems demoable
  • Exercises

Why form matters

  • Form follows content. Content follows form
  • Demos are design tools
  • Exercises

How can you integrate innovation in your project?

  • Demos and planning
  • Demos and design
  • Demos and impact mapping
  • Improving the review

Standard duration: 1 day

Sample talk