• Patrick Verdonk

Defining Cause and Purpose of Change: Two stories about the use of the Story Telling Canvas

Actualizado: 13 nov 2020

Fellow Lean Change Management facilitator Annelies De Meyere recently wrote a story called Change Management Canvases: The hidden power of the Story Telling Canvas, which made me think about how I use the Canvas.

I can only agree with Annelies that there’s huge power in its usage. If you want to understand how to use the canvas at team level, to guide your team’s involvement in a change program, I strongly recommend you read her article.

However, I believe there is even more power in, and ways to use, the canvas. In my experience, based on personal and business events, there are more ways to use the canvas, for example in:

  1. Personal changes and decision making

  2. In consultative selling

The canvas is growing to be my favorite tool to explain Cause and Purpose of any type of Change. Let me try to explain with a few short stories.

Story 1: Personal changes and decision making.

Personal changes may be ones that have the biggest impacts on our lives. I’ve had to make a few over the past 25+ years. Choose to change country in which I work and live (3 times…), ending a long relationship, leave the company I worked 20 years in, to name a few… Here’s one of those stories…

In the past…

I have spent a large part of my professional life in a large multinational corporation. Entering young and hungry to learn, it proved to be an environment with plenty of opportunities for people like me. For people willing to make potential life changing decisions.

And I liked it because…

The working conditions were very good: a lot of flexibility, potential to move and take on new challenges in the company, good salary, company paid pension plan and health care, enough free days, and freedom in working hours and place.

But then one day… (ok, this happened over time)

The company had been under almost permanent reconstruction for the past 14 years or so. Don’t get me wrong, I love change, I’ve been playing active roles in the reconstructions, though over the years the company’s expectations of my role had grown in a different direction than I liked my personal and professional development to grow into.

And because of that…

I, eventually, felt I was stuck, and decided to leave the company, after a bit more than 20 years.

I wanted to…

Be in charge again, make my own choices about my personal and professional development. Make a difference in the work lives of people ‘undergoing’ transformation programs, by focusing on the human aspect of change. Spread the word about it, and actively work with the involved people.

Cause and Purpose of a personal change

Sometimes personal decisions have far reaching impacts. The Story Telling Canvas can help you generate a quick overview of the change and choices you are about to make. It helps to remind yourself, and talk to others about the Cause of the decision you made (are about to make), and the Purpose of it. Keeping it at hand can help you through the more difficult moments.

Story 2: Using the Story Telling Canvas in consultative selling.

“We want to start our Digital Transformation”, that was about the opening message from a customer we met with a few months ago. We sat down and listened to them.

-Recognize that?-

When the customer stopped talking, we confirmed we had understood what they want (based on the cause). We also told them we were not sure that a Digital Transformation is what they need (an unclear purpose).

Let’s use the Story Telling Canvas to explore this…

In the past (and even today)…

The company is reasonably successful. It has been able to develop a business model for which there are not many competitors. A smart choice of directors has helped the company with it’s customer base, without having to put extreme sales and marketing efforts behind it.

And they liked it because…

They have been able to keep the company size relatively small, while serving a large number of customers. Good profits, in a comfortable competitive position.

But then one day… (ok, this happened over time as well, apart from disasters, little happens “one day”)

New technologies, enabling new competitors to enter in fractures of their market. Niche players. The company doesn’t know exactly how to respond, because the comfort they’ve been in has created an environment in which people don’t even know from each other what they are exactly doing.

And because of that…

A ‘quick’ internal and external investigation was done, which concluded that the company needs to ‘modernize’.

The company wanted to…

Do the same as ‘everybody else’, modernize through a Digital Transformation

Cause and Purpose in consultative selling

The customer couldn’t really explain what modernization meant to her, neither did she have clear reasoning behind the choice for a Digital Transformation.

Using the Story Telling Canvas we could quickly show the customer that what she wants may not be what she needs.

Having a clearly defined cause, helps us -in the sales cycle- to question the purpose of the solution the customer wants. In several cases we’ve been able to quickly show a customer what she actually needs.

Using a Story Telling Canvas with your customer in the sales cycle can create a baseline for trust, confidence and, most important, clarity of the actual customer needs.

Tell your story!

These were only two stories to provide some first insights in the power of stories and the Story Telling Canvas. Hope it generated some of what Annelies called “AHA-moment” in her article.

Keep in mind:

  1. The Story Telling canvas has the most impact when the story is co-created. With people close to you (personal change), with your customer, or with any other person that may be involved in or impacted by the change.

  2. You won’t be finished with a filled in Canvas. It is where the story, well, begins…

If you want to know more about the usage of this canvas, or other Change Canvases, check out our upcoming Lean Change Management workshops.

If you have a story or other way to use the Story Telling Canvas to share – commend here or contact me directly!

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