A painted picture, a story to tell for your product

Great artists have the ability to paint a picture. They can vividly tell a story which inspire us. Whether its through words, music, design or art. You can see it. You feel it in your bones. You believe it.

Painted picture

They persuade you with their passion and artistry. The artist takes you on a journey, moving you from scene to scene. They move you from one emotional state to another.

As a product manager in the technology industry, I need to do the same. I have to paint a picture of where we are going. To tell a story of our journey to customers and internal stakeholders. I need to get people to believe in it and join that journey. I also have to show the concrete steps to get there.

Story driven development

Typically, a product team would build a feature. Then the product marketing team would figure out how to market it to customers.

I work on the Confluence product. In the products team for Confluence at Atlassian, we are becoming more story driven. We want to come up with a painted picture at the start of a project.
A painted picture

Our Confluence product teams have this requirement before we start a project:

What is the blog post for this project?

Coming up with the blog post title (or press release) forces us to think about if the customer cares about what we are doing. It is a simple test. We work backwards from the end result. For our mobile team, each release is a project. It has its own theme and a story.

This is a practice adopted from Amazon. There’s a great answer on Quora from Ian McAllister on this. The Amazon product teams write an internal press release before starting a project. It is a “who cares” test. It is far easier to change a press release, than it is to change the product.

Product teams need to shift from being driven by features into being driven from stories. You need to consider if you are delivering a compelling story for the customer. In each release, we need to have a story that builds into a larger story of our product vision. It is like a scene in a movie.

I need to consider if we have enough value in each release. Is there a customer facing story in each release? Is there a “wow” for the customer?


Start with the blog post title or the press release first. Paint a picture of the future. Then build the things that deliver that story 🙂

I’m out like boring stories,
Matt Ho

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