Category Archives: Project Management

Inspiring and Leading through Storytelling

I just read The Magic Mural and How It Got Built: A Fable for Children of All Ages by Pat Welsh and Betsy Schultz, 2005.

The Magical Mural Book Cover

The Magic Mural is a really entertaining book that describes how the mural in front of the Del Mar library was conceived and built.


The author shares details that are also found in a design brief, such as who’s working on the project and what their roles are. There are also lots of great details about the people in the community and what they treasure, similar to a user profile.

Storytelling and story boarding is a great way to get people to work together and understand a projects common vision. This book inspired me to go to the Magic Mural at lunchtime today and see if I can help. The mural began renovation Dec 2012 and should be completed March 2013.

Postscript:  I went later that day and enjoyed helping out so much that I brought a Troop of Girl Scouts with me the next time. Here is a picture of Pat telling the story of the gnome, the tortoise jungle and the case of the wayward Hollywood parents to the girls.

Pat StorytellingIt turns out that listening to a great storyteller makes mural restoration work very enjoyable too!

Mural Team


Communicating Design

Here are some great points made by Keith Robinson, of Blue Flavor, in his talk on design process and deliverables.

1. Documenting your design decisions is important, but it’s not the document, it’s the communication that matters. Involve stakeholders and communicate.


2. The Design Process you use depends on the projects needs. Here are some design deliverables and guidelines for when to use them:



3. Don’t use deliverables to build consensus. Designers should make the design decisions! Weak design consensus results in weak design. The designer should present the decisions 1st and then create high quality deliverables. Great designers show stakeholders that their issues are understood, have a history of great work and can tie designs back to goals and use user research results.


4. Use a project brief. Focus on problems, not features. Clearly set goals and make sure all team members have reviewed the brief.


5. Create personas with all stakeholders and use the personas in scenarios.


6. Screen Description Diagrams are a great way to describe in detail (using real data) what you want to include on the screen. You should prioritize each screen element and describe how each element reflects the user’s goals. Leave out the visuals here to give the visual and interaction designers more control later.

screen description diagram


7. Use wireframes to communicate interaction and layout. Be as detailed as possible. Annotate thoroughly to describe interaction. Also, remember to “move on” after a set number of iterations-> the goal is to create an app, not a perfect wireframe.


8. Keep your style guide short and up to date. Kevin uses 37 Signals whiteboard for his style guides.