Episode 17: Once Upon a Time in Manchester (Part 3)

Episode 17: Once Upon a Time in Manchester (Part 3)

This is an episode from Storyteller Tactics

Each week we release a story that uses two cards from the up and coming Storyteller Tactics card deck.

👉 Tactics released so far

👉 Previous episodes

👉 See previous episodes.

👉 See the tactic cards released so far

Remember when we last saw Steve and Charles?

A storyteller, struggling to teach innovation. And an innovator, struggling to find his story. They met by chance, in a Manchester design agency, where Steve was running a story class. They got on, they swapped notes, they occasionally popped up on each other’s LinkedIn feeds. 

Then, one day, a message: “Hey Steve. I’ve got a proposition for you. Free to chat?”

Fast forward to May 2021, everyone’s emerging slowly from lockdown. There’s a feeling of new life and opportunity in the air. Steve and Charles are outside a pub in Manchester. It’s raining. They’re huddling under a summer umbrella, moving dozens of hand-written cards around a table. Charles’ dog [insert name] is bored and has found a dry place to sleep.

“Should we have done this on a laptop?” Steve asks, as the rain smudges the ink on another one of the cards. 

“No, there’s something more real about a handwritten card,” Charles says. “It’s a faff and they’re not cheap, but it’s worth it. Ok, how many tactics have we got?”

“Err.. seventy-ish,” says Steve. “We’ll have to lose a few.”  

“How do we organise them?” Charles wonders. “What if you could only take three, or five, or six cards, like you’re on a desert island. Which ones would you take?”

Steve works quietly, shifting and shuffling cards, muttering to himself: “Well, these tactics help you explore your world. These help you develop your character in the story. And these ‘function’ cards focus on what you need your story to achieve.”

Five minutes later, seventy-ish cards are sorted into seven neat piles.

“That looks good,” Charles says as both men survey their work. “I feel like we ought to try another iteration, y’ know, as design thinkers.”

“Yeah, but that feels spot on, doesn’t it,” says Steve.

“Well yes. Sometimes I guess your first instinct is right.” 

So where are we now, fans of Product Club? And when can you get your hands on Story Tactics? If you’ve been following these episodes, you’ve been getting free digital versions of the cards. But you really want the actual, solid card, don’t you? Good design, nicely printed on a weighty card. If we’ve gone to all that trouble, the content must be good, right?

If you’re struggling to find your voice in a noisy world, don’t give up. You’re actually surrounded by all the elements you need to tell your own authentic story. It isn’t easy, you’ll have false starts and tell stories that fall flat. But with these tactics, with the support of the Product Club, you will find and tell great stories about your work. 

Storyteller Tactics: coming soon to a Kickstarter near you.


These are the tactics I used in this final episode:

TRUE Stories

It’s no good having a great story if you can’t get our attention. Try to make your story Timely (lockdown is lifting, there’s opportunity in the air);

  • Relatable (we’ve all been rained on, lots of us have sat in pub gardens);
  • Unexpected (hey look, the Design Thinker has broken his own rules)
  • Expensive (it’s worth having physical cards, not just free intangible stuff). All of these tricks appeal to what’s in the front of our minds, rather than asking us to dig deep and do some heavy thinking.
See the TRUE Stories tactic

Pitch Perfect

My favourite model for a sixty second pitch is POPP: Problem (you’re struggling to find your voice); Opportunity (your story elements are all around you); Practical Steps (it won’t be easy, nothing good is ever easy) and Promise (come with us, we will help you tell great stories).

See the Pitch Perfect tactic

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