Applying product management to a game based on storytelling

By Limor Shiponi

Well, life does bring interesting opportunities my way. Next week I’m going to attend Strategic Product Managerโ„ข training by Blackblot in Tel-Aviv. The product I have in mind is a game that helps elicit marketing and sales stories and it’s core technology is storytelling. The game’s prototype, created by The Story Telling Company Inc. has been tested several times already and is showing some interesting and innovative results. It’s about time we take it forward.

In this case, the entire idea for the game sits tight on storytelling technology and it’s ability to deliver. Another unusual facet of the game is the requirement from the participant to work as a team. Sales people who met the game didn’t like this specific idea at first but eventually they jumped in realizing the outcome will serve them all and will not limit other “personal charm” techniques and tricks they might be already using.

I’ll be reporting about the experience via Social Media channels as the course proceeds. I might even have questions in attempt to elicit crowd-wisdom so stay tuned and keep wise ๐Ÿ™‚

12 thoughts on “Applying product management to a game based on storytelling”

  1. Geez, you sure know how to hook people! ๐Ÿ™‚ Since I spent 27 years in the software business, managing companies, coming up with product ideas, developing them and getting them out of the door (shipping!) I have to ask, are you attending the training to help you get your idea for this storytelling software more focused and then out the door? Software product management is a fascinating discipline.

    1. The simple answer – yes, I intend to get the game out of the door (strange way to put it. I can already see the game standing out of the door feeling lonely…)

      The more complex answer – there are several issues I need and want to know more about. For instance – how to translate roles. In storytelling, the entire process is lead by one person – from idea to execution. If I’m going to put the work in the hands of other people and they are a software company or a bord-game company (both really), how do I translate the various roles in my mind so they will keep storytelling technology intact? how will I be able to track what they are doing and where they are going? we’ll need to be able to speak the same language.

      1. You have just described what sounds like child birth and rearing to me. And, with any product, that can be a very real analogy. I feel certain we’ll share some software people and product stories before your journey through this is complete.

        There have been several times when I have wished we weren’t separated by some many miles so that we could sit over a cup of coffee or whatever and talk. This is one of them. As much as you have helped me to formulate ‘story’, ‘narrative’ and ‘telling’, I think the questions you ask above might give me the chance to repay you. I’ll be back to continue the discussion in a while. ๐Ÿ™‚

      2. Ok, so, the game is standing outside the door feeling lonely. Why is it lonely? It’s entire life is lying before it ready and waiting to be lived. Is it maybe you who are lonely now that the software is ready to live a life of its own? Have you put so much of your self into it that its hard to imagine it in others hands?

        Seth Godin makes the point in his talks of late that one of the most important abilities a person can have at the moment is the ability to ‘ship’, to get something ‘out of the door’. Whether that is software, a book, a product of whatever ilk, getting it shipped is crucial. I could tell you many, many stories of softawre products that didn’t get shipped because someone (an engineer, an owner, a marketing or sales person, etc.) wanted to add just one more feature or change just this one thing in the user interface or experience. Or, they wondered how people would interact with it or react to it. Should the people in technical support and services be trained just a little longer so that they could handle the customer inquiries. And, while we’re doing that, why don’t we go ahead and add that one feature we decided not to.

        Not knowing your product yet, I can’t give you an answer to your question on translating roles or keeping the storytelling technology intact. As far as keeping track of what they are doing and where they are going, I can understand why you would want to do this, but I would ask you, is that something you should be doing? And if it is, then perhaps you do so by implementing an ‘authorized network’, people who you have trained, talked to at length or whatever about storytelling and storytelling in the applied space. People who feel and understand story just as you do (although, I’m not so certain there are too many of those around ๐Ÿ™‚ ). Something like that would likely impact revenue potential versus just selling the software and board game to any and all who are interested, but it would give you greater control over the concerns your questions raise.

        I guess I’ll close this for now with a few observations. You are an extraordinarily gifted person who knows story and telling as few do. You share that generously. You also have a sense of the nature and soul of story and telling that mean a great deal to you. I think that the best you can do is to pass that along with all of the passion that you possess for it and then let it live as it will. Story and telling was here before you. It will be here after you. It has been made ever richer by you making it your life’s work. Like the child I allude to earlier, let it our ino the world trusting in the values you have taught by word and example, and then continue to guide as best you can.

        I hope that I someday get a chance to see the softawre in action. Have fun as you explore the “product management” side of it these next few days. It sounds to me as if you’re asking all of the right questions.

        1. Hi Gregg,
          That was a long day… and a very interesting one, too. Three more to go and I’m curious.
          Standing outside of the door and feeling lonely – that was just the first thought that came up, poetically. I don’t have a problem imagining it in others’ hands and it’s not the only game I have in mind. This is just the first one that has a prototype and has been tested. Getting it out of the door is a matter of resources, but beyond that I have no reason to keep it. It’s not software solely. It’s a combination of a facilitated workshop, board-game and software. Human presence and interaction are part of the game’s essence. It’s not THAT scalable, but it’s scalable enough.

          Still, I want to help figure out the future of this product through understanding product management better. I’ve been observing the connection between storytelling and gaming. What I can see until now is better or worse but the connection to storytelling technology is very dull. You can see stuff about characters and plots but there is much more to it. I assume you’ll agree most people don’t see the connection between storytelling and technology unless they mean storytelling through technology. I mean something very different. Now, how can a MRD document be shaped if the product managers involved don’t know what I’m talking about? so it’s my responsibility to be able to translate what I mean and want. At least it seems so to me.

          I too hope to see the day. Understanding product management seems to bring me more than one step closer. What’s great about Blackblot’s methodology is the fact it is a methodology – full, clear, comprehensive, the kind of professional work I like to have a dialogue with. It can help raise new understandings on both ends.

          Regards and thanks for these conversations.

          1. This is going to be fascinating to watch as it unfolds and to read your thoughts as they do too. Please know that I was not in any way demeaning Blackblot or their methodology or your investing your time in learning all of what they have to teach you.

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  4. P.S. From what you’ve shared with us about your daughter, it would seem you did a damn good job there. You didn’t have a manual to guide you. There’s been a decent amount written on software product management, but no matter what the purported experts say, there is no manual there either. A lot of good advice to be found there, for sure. And some bad as well. I suspect that in raising your daughter, you went with your instincts. That seemed to have worked pretty well for you. I’d suggest that you trust those same instincts here too.

  5. ๐Ÿ™‚ well, I’d say, a lot of thinking went into raising the three of them ๐Ÿ™‚ especially trying to find the right framework that will allow living and growing and not constantly dealing with the frame. At the same time there was enough space for improvisation and change. It seems we’ve met the same thing today.

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