Summer can be a slow time for consultants, especially when you need to engage with your clients on a regular basis the way I do. If I haven’t already started on a project by July, clients are hesitant to start the deep Narrative process when vacation and sunshine beckon. While I do have several clients on the go, I am also taking this time to go deeper into my own story. For me, that means embracing my passion for learning.

I heard via Twitter that Stanford University was offering a free, 5 week online course around Design Thinking through their Venture Lab. My interest was officially perked. I enrolled and awaited the start date. Just finishing Week One, I have been amazed at the many ways the Internet can bring people together from around the world, engaging us in ideas that are applicable to each and every one of us. My group consists of 6 members: from Peru, Mexico, Russia, Netherlands, India and myself in Canada. We work in diverse industries, and yet we were all drawn to the idea of thinking outside the box so that we can engage ourselves and others in creative processes. The first week of assignments has been a general introduction into Design Thinking. After hosting several workshops, retreats and seminars, I know that the design is the most integral part of fulfilling a vision for success.

One area that struck me in this week’s course was examining The 10 Faces of Innovation. This is similar to Narrative Communications’ Archetypal Analysis, in which I take clients through a series of questions and frameworks to understand what archetypes are driving them, and their business forward. Not surprisingly, I connected immediately with The Storyteller:

The Storyteller captures our imagination with compelling narratives of initiative, hard work, and innovation. This person goes beyond oral tradition to work in whatever medium best fits their skills and message: video, narrative, animation, even comic strips. By rooting their stories in authenticity, the Storyteller can spark emotion and action, transmit values and objectives, foster collaboration, create heroes, and lead people and organizations into the future.

And yet I was also struck by the ways that The Storyteller engages with the other Faces of Innovation – The Cross-Pollinator, The Anthropologist, The Collaborator. We all wear the 10 Faces depending on the scenario we find ourselves in. This is actually quite different than the Archetypes exercise, since Archetypes lead us at a more universal level, whereas the 10 Faces seem to float in and out of our lives depending on circumstances. Both are excellent tools and resources for understanding how we work as well as how others work.

I am looking forward to Week Two and all that will be revealed as I dive into my own strategic design thinking.