What is the Abstractions story tactic?

Don't just ask questions, observe people in action. We often understand much more than we can explain.

Imagine you're watching a group of five-year-olds playing a made-up game in the playground. Take one kid aside and ask her to explain the rules of the game and why she's taking part. How useful do you think her answers will be? Explanations are an abstraction. Real knowledge lies much deeper, in action and stories.

Tip: if you're planning a field trip to observe your users, take this card along with Emotional Dashboard.

How to use the Abstractions story tactic

Watch your users in action. See how many levels you can discover, starting with action and working up to rationalisation.

  • Action: what is your user doing?
  • Imitation: who are they modelling their behaviour on?
  • Ritual/Play: what patterns/rules are they following?
  • Ritual/Play: what kind of story do they tell?
  • Rationalisation: how do they explain why they do this?

Try Story Listening when asking questions.

Look for contradictions between what people say and do, as these can reveal new angles for your project. Use That's Funny to help.

Use Secrets and Puzzles or What's My Motivation? to explain your insights.

Credit: J.Piaget, Psychology of the Child.

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Abstractions is one of 54 storytelling recipe cards inside the Storyteller Tactics card deck.

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