The Set Designer, The Caregiver, and the Storyteller
In the final installment of my reflections from The Ten Faces of Innovation, by Tom Kelley, I would like to introduce the Set Designer, The Caregiver, and the Storyteller. These three personas, while last in the book, are definitely not least.
Innovation flows best in an inspirational setting, so The Set Designer becomes involved in the day to day experience of accessing the creative spirit. While this may involve a memorable experience (such as The Experience Architect may create), the main objective of the Set Designer is to “gauge how space behaves and make subtle adjustments to keep it responsive to your shifting needs,” striking a balance between collaborative and private spaces. What if you could endear your employees to a space the way stadiums boost the spirits of their home team? What if you could tap in to the energy and exuberance of a kindergarten? What if your courage could keep up with your imagination?
“Set Designers are dedicated to exploring a different frontier you might call ‘inner space’ -the work and commercial environments where most of us spend the bulk of our waking hours” (p. 195).
Much like a nurse, doctor, or dear ‘ol mom, The Caregiver is the persona that seeks out and comforts the human aspect of innovation. The care, support, encouragement and love for people and their needs, is how this persona sets new ideas into motion. A large corporation seeking the skills of an IDEO team is likely to have a problem related to people, either working for them or buying goods and services from them. The Caregiver persona understands that you cannot remove humanity from the equation, on either side of the corporate wall. Many times, a product can be lacking, but superior customer service makes all the difference to the patron. Think about a product you use that feels almost perfect, like a great running shoe, and chances are The Caregiver persona is behind the innovation, ensuring the team considers all the needs the shoe-wearer has for a running shoe. In essence, The Caregiver knows how to leverage empathy for the human condition and they do it with an all-important, genuine smile.
“It may seem to be a small thing, but no serious Caregiver should overlook it. I daresay most of us (and most organizations) could do with a few more smiles” (p.240).
The Storyteller is the kind of persona that can make an intriguing story out of buying a loaf of bread. However, it is imperative in business that the story being told is the “right narrative with the right situation” (p.245).
“Business stories have focused purposes like sparking action, transmitting values, fostering collaboration, or leading people into the future. Before you begin a story, it’s important to know what specific outcome you are hoping to attain” (p. 245).
Storytelling is imperative to innovation. The story of a product not only defines the parameters of the product, but attracts a specific range of customers, and informs the way a product will be branded. Keep in mind, Kelley did not title this persona The Writer. The Storyteller works much like The Anthropologist, stepping out into the field searching for the stories that will help catalyze an innovation. It takes patience and a good ear, not just a talent for captivating an audience, to be The Storyteller. That’s not saying The Storyteller cannot dream up a new way to tell the story. Sometimes in the face of change, it takes an outstanding story teller to propel people into a new way of seeing. Mythology and science-fiction, romance and mystery, even the fortune cookie are all ways of seeing the world. Stories make up our history, reality, emotions, and help make order out of chaos. No wonder this persona is valuable within and without an innovation team.
In conclusion, I would like to reconfirm my business crush on IDEO. On this path to entrepreneurship, I see the value in adopting certain personas in varying business situations. I often recognized myself in these chapters. Each new persona reflected a vision of someone I’d like to have coffee with, and I can see where I would find allies for my own strengths and talents.