First commit: 2021-03-23

Last updated: 2022-12-05

Linked Notes

Project Narration

A couple of notes towards a communication strategy for innovation teams.


  • Innovation often means a) working outside the comfort zone of a given company and b) trying to change aspects of the company in the process.
  • Promising projects often fell apart because company and team weren‘t on the same level, meaning a difference in language, a lack of understanding of a field or idea or a missing history of the project which made the work of the team invisible and incomprehensible.
  • To avoid those issues teams and projects need a communication strategy that goes beyond a pitch presentation.


  • Understanding the audience: Who are you talking to? What‘s their role in the project or their relation to the project? What information are they going to need for a decision? How can these informations be connected to form a plausible and engaging story? (Not talking showmanship here)
  • Communication has to start early in the project either by compiling reports, giving presentations or writing blog posts. Early prototypes are also a way of explaining an issue or field hands-on. (This is why internal communications channels are so vitally important for innovation teams)
  • Artifacts are also a useful tool. Think of artifacts as anchors for your project and story. They are a by-product of the project such as prototypes, reports, speculative design objects or literal artifacts from field-research. Things that help you illustrate decisions made or represent data points.

The art of storytelling

We’ve all heard both stories that have affected us intellectually and emo tionally and others that have fallen flat. So what makes for a great story?

In “The Four Truths of the Storyteller” (Harvard Business Review, 2007), Peter Guber argues that people are most moved and captivated by stories that reflect honest and openly communicated values and are true to the teller, the audience (who walk away with a story worth owning the moment (which makes the story spontaneously different every time it is narrated), and the mission, in that the storyteller is devoted to a cause greater than herself,

The story needs to whet the audience’s appetite for what’s to follow, and deliver on the promise through emotional fulfilment. For the story to be successful, it needs to make the audience take ownership-to retell it in their own terms, while retaining its mission. It may seem contra dictory, but intense preparation for, and a deep understanding of the material being shared supports spontaneity, allowing the researcher to ad-lib with confidence.

— Jan Chipchase, Field Study Handbook

Make it sticky

Good insights and ideas can get lost if they are not also easy to communicate. Simple language and frameworks help ensure design and development work is more naturally grounded in user insights. Creating a ‘sticky‘ language for these findings helps key insights become memorable and therefore actionable as part of everyday decision-making.

 —  Helsinki Design Lab, Legible Practices