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Start with a Story

storytelling and problem solving

· English

Companies solve problems by running projects : they bring together stakeholders, sponsors, project manager and a team - around a goal.

Project management in early stages is about pulling people out of their priorities, schedules and urgent deliverables, and refocussing their attention and energy on the new initiative.

To get hold of attention and energy, project managers need to communicate a compelling story, and they need to communicate it early and often.

How do project managers find and build compelling stories?

A compelling story comes from study and understanding of customer experience - project managers need to find a way to reach this insight. They can listen to calls in a call center, analyse customer complaints or speak with customers directly.

Some years ago I helped solve a problem in a call center.
According to our stakeholder, the main problem (and the solution) was:
«We have too many calls and not enough people to respond to calls. We do not pick up the phone in time and clients become impatient and unhappy. We need more people on the phone lines».

My team and I listened to over 200 calls, live, in that call center. We noted the reason for each call. We crystallised 3 top reasons for why people call - those three top reasons accounted for 80% of the calls to the call center.

All reasons that we identified were direct consequences of waste in processes and inefficiency of the work design in the call center. The customer had no other choice but to keep calling, trying to find a workaround for the difficulties they encountered.

When we understood the customer experience, we built a compelling story to tell inside the company. The project that followed transformed both processes and the culture in the call center.