“Hit the Beach”: VMware’s Storymap Opens Up Internal and External Communication

storymapping Dec 12, 2017


The Digital Workspace Communication Challenge

Recently The Grove worked with VMware to develop a Grove Storymap® about its digital workspace product, Workspace ONE. VMware developed an amazing product but was running into some communication obstacles. As Kevin Strohmeyer, senior director of Solutions Product Marketing, describes, “We had been talking about the digital workspace both internally and in the marketplace for 18 months, but there was little consistency. More importantly, we were asking our customers to make transformational changes to move to a digital workspace, but while we could describe problems and solutions, we couldn’t consistently describe the journey without jumping to technology challenges.”

What is digital workspace? As VMware defines it: “Digital workspace provides the necessary infrastructure to securely deliver the apps and data employees need across any device, whenever and wherever they choose to work.” In layman’s terms, one can be at work, home, the ballpark, or anywhere with any device (cellphone, tablet, laptop, desktop computer, etc.), and gain access to every app and data necessary to do one’s job. No matter what device one chooses, you just log in and voilà, you have what you need. And here’s the kicker—it is all secure.


The Beach Scene Takes Shape

To facilitate alignment in Workspace ONE communications and messaging, VMware asked The Grove to lead a Storymapping process. We launched the project with a day-long meeting at VMware’s offices in Palo Alto, CA, in which stakeholders gathered from different sectors of the organization. For many, this was the first time they had crossed paths. We spent the day gathering content and identifying central themes for possible inclusion in the Storymap.

As part of this process, small groups brainstormed and drew their own metaphors to represent their vision for Workspace ONE. Of all the drawings, one had particular resonance: a beach scene with a surf shop. It was chosen as a way to describe the feeling of freedom while working with Workspace One, the sense of user choice at the “device bar,” and the presence of security as represented by the lifeguard.

Following this kickoff session, we developed multiple concepts. As we worked through the concept stage, we kept coming back to the beach as an end or “vision” state. But what was the journey to the beach like? Was it a jungle filled with dangers to overcome? Was it a fork in the road?

In a concept review session, one of the Storymap design team members suggested that the journey was like being on a family road trip. You knew that the destination was going to be fabulous, but getting there was going to be arduous.


Filling In the Picture

We ran with the road trip metaphor and filled in some key details. The Current Situation was used to convey how most users feel when using their systems—stuck in a traffic jam, driving an old car, and unable to work efficiently and with flexibility. In this state, IT also gets a bad rap. It must wear many “hats”—the construction worker who slows everything down, the cop who tries to keep systems secure, and the tow truck driver who bails out people who create or install their own apps that end up not working.

The Transition section of the map posed an interesting challenge. We wanted to show IT representatives shedding their old uniforms and getting on a bus to the beach. The trick was showing that the journey was not one-size-fits-all. In other words, you could start small and build up your digital workspace, but for optimal success, there are three tracks that you need to complete with the help of VMware and its partners. We settled on a roundabout to represent this flexible journey. It can be entered and exited based on a company’s need.

Once through the Transition, the bus merges onto the Digital Workspace Express, accelerating to the beach where the user perception has dramatically changed from IT-controlled to user-controlled. At the beach resort,

one can see that the role of IT has greatly changed, as well. At Digital Workspace Beach, IT runs the resort. Cozy up to the device bar and IT will serve you a device of your choice. Users choose their apps as they would choose popsicles from an ice cream truck.

Employees relax while working at the beach and remark how their relationship with IT has changed, with IT being a trusted partner now. Not only are the benefits for the user and IT plain to see, but the organizational benefits are clear as well: speed, security and harmony result in productivity and innovation.


Customers Relate to The Beach

As the Storymap took shape, VMware made the savvy choice to share preliminary versions with customer advisory boards in Boston, London and Palo Alto. Kevin Strohmeyer noticed that something unexpected happened in these sessions. “Across the board, we have heard feedback that it is refreshing to have a conversation about a transformational IT change without talking technology. It allows us to find common ground with almost anyone, regardless of their level of background and understanding. This has helped us open conversations we otherwise would not be having.”

He also became aware that “the beach” was becoming the term used for digital workspace. Everybody was talking about the beach and everybody wanted to get to the beach!


A Playful Image and Story Provide Organizational Cohesion

Having a client who is willing to be playful with metaphors and messages is always fun. In this case, it proved more effective than we could have imagined. Kevin Strohmeyer sums up:


“Working with The Grove to create a Storymap allowed us to form a common vocabulary and storyline that we use both for internal sales training and as a conversation tool for our sales teams to use with their customers. Many of the stakeholders in the process were skeptical, but once seen in action, it has absolutely been a home run. The process and methodology absolutely work. I can’t speak enough about the professionalism and creativity of The Grove team. From the discipline in running review meetings to the unexpected creativity found in the artwork, this has been one of the best collaborations I have experienced in my professional career.”

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