How does the canvas create a story?
When a canvas is chock full of rich, vivid, specific information, stories can leap out at the reader. One story might start with a description of the world as it is, and the people within it whom you've chosen to serve. Another might start "Imagine if you will..." and link directly to the New Normal you've described as arising from the gains produced and the value experienced, thanks to your offer. Which story you choose to share should be shaped by the context and occasion of its telling.
The great thing about storyFORMing is that these choices remain open to you, so the story you tell here and now is both authentic and fresh.
To get to these options requires rich, vivid, specific content in each of the shapes.
Sharpen your storyFORM
Rich, vivid, specific content requires you to use a lens that has you focusing on detail even while the framework stretches your vision to the full field. I encourage you to create a "higher-resolution" storyFORMing canvas before you press ahead into writing your story; that way, your stories will be more concrete and more compelling.
My hope is that I can give people the tools and framework to make that work easier.
What do I mean by high-res?
A high-res photo has lots of dots per square inch. Likewise, a high-res canvas has more information and talking points. That rich information is the rocket fuel for forming stories.
The opposite of high resolution is blurry. For me, it's the visual version of white noise.
How do you get to higher resolution?
One on hand, higher resolution canvases arise when people provide in-depth, detailed replies to each of the umbrella questions. For example, in articulating their offer, the umbrella questions I encourage people to ask are these:
- What form does your offer take? How and where do people use it?
- Is the offer something you've created (like a book or movie or a podcast) or do your creations support the offer?
- Is the offer a product? a service? an experience? a platform that brings together people with different assets or complementary aims?
- How does your offer relate to an existing category, or is it a whole new category?
- How do you know it will work as intended? Can you offer specific examples?
I ask people to remember that the offer needs "handles" - things that make it possible for a hero to pick it up and carry it into their world and their direct experience, either literally or metaphorically.
What do I do when I don't (yet) know?
Stay with the questions. Leave aside any need to answer them quickly. TBD ("To be determined") or TBC ("To be confirmed) are fine answers - because they are placeholders marking the areas where more exploration or distillation is required. Papering over those with empty words is pointless. Literally - it robs the canvas of the fine points that make it real, accessible and interesting. And it's those aspects that will make your commercial story compelling.
Part of the challenge in creating something new to the world is that in some sense, we start with a blank canvas. It takes patience and experimentation to find the optimal problem-solution fit. I hope you can use storyFORMing as permission to allow yourself to develop patience and to actively experiment.
Once you've captured answers to these questions (and related questions that occur to you as your thinking develops), you may find that initial elements you located in the Offer move from the Yellow triangle to the orange rectangle where you yourself/your team, your values and capabilities. Particularly in personal brands or in services, we slip up and think people are investing in our attributes rather than in the ways we make those attributes available to them as services or products. Shifting attributes into a description of ourselves opens up the space to define a more hero-centered description of the offer.
A story that centres on the hero (not on us, the inventor or hustler or originator) is a commercial story that earns the attention it commands.