I missed the first minute or two of introduction from Gretchen; she talked a bit about the idea of “commander’s intent” and how in the military a lot of decisions are made by looking at the commanding officer’s intent.

She then talked about how boxes and arrows don’t tell a story to a lot of people, especially the business decision makers and industrial designers. She’s saying that a lot of success from comes knowing the forest, not the trees. “I looked at industrial designers and noticed they were sketching people and things and I was sketching boxes and arrows.”

Before you’ve got a prototype, you don’t have a demo, but you can sell them on a concept. She talked about how a colleague had 8 minutes with the CEO, and turned it into a big success by talking about people for 6 minutes, and then spending 2 minutes on the prototype. The CEO extended the meeting by 7 minutes, which was viewed as a coup.

When you have a narrative, you can hook people in, but if you have a bunch of interaction design cobbled together, you get big disconnects.

Create a big vision for your project and inspire people.

Harness the power of stories. On the one hand a story is “Here’s Jamie, she’s got some bowls, and at the end of the day, she uses her bowls.” This isn’t much of a story. You need to make it exciting.

To make stories, you need to “have character.” Your characters–your product–is not the lead of a story, it’s the supporting character. Don’t be afraid of being wrong–be afraid of not making a statement.

You also need curiosity and a crisis. You might have to exaggerate things to make the story interesting.

[Gretchen ended the presentation with an story composed of a collage of photographs that told a story of how a product worked timed to music.]

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