This post describes the second and final part of the Hero's Journey Workshop. Hero's Journey UX Workshop: Part I details the first part of the workshop, and my post Personas Are Dead. Long Live The Heroes describes the premise behind these activities.



The purpose of Part I is:

  • To create shared understanding amongst the project team about the people they want to help.

The purpose of Part II (described in the post below) is two-fold:

  • To identify opportunities for the organization to help solve those people's problems along their journey.
  • To design propositions that embody the problem-solution fit identified in the opportunities .

Module III: Identifying Opportunities

How It Works

Each teams tacks up their Hero Cards and Journey Maps on the walls. One individual from each team volunteers to tell the story of their hero's journey to the rest of the group.

While the individual walks the rest of the group through the story, the other participants identify moments of opportunity where they could personally as an individual or professionally as an organization help this hero along their journey. On a sticky note and using clear lettering, they write their opportunity in the form of a "What If?" statement. So, if for example, there is a moment in the story where the hero makes a bad decision, a person could finish the "What if..." statement by writing "we could provide them with the right information to make an informed decision."

They would then place that post-it note directly onto the Journey Map where the opportunity arose.

So for each story, the task will go like this:

  • Individual introduces the hero and walks group through the story
  • The group takes 5 minutes to write down opportunities in finished "What if...?" statements and places them on the Journey Map
  • Group discussion

After the entire group has walked through each story and identified opportunities, most likely everyone will be exhausted and it will be time to break for lunch.

Module IV: Analyzing Opportunities & Designing Value Propositions


The purpose of this activity is to design value propositions solve one or more of the hero's problems and meet the desired outcomes of the organization.

How It Works

Task I: Analyzing Outputs (60 mins)

The goal of this first part of the session is to sift through the opportunities, create connections, draw relationships and identify patterns. We want to elicit understanding and identify themes and patterns amongst the insights.

Break into the original teams (one for each hero) and reconvene to digest the opportunities that the rest of the group identified. This could take the form of an activity like an open card sort. The idea is that individuals read through each opportunity one by one and then the team collectively groups the opportunities into categories or themes.

Each team should feel like a group of detectives looking through a wall of clues for a crime mystery. As facilitator you can propagate around the room and facilitate discussion that leans toward insight, but at the heart of the session needs to be a desire to understand and to create shared understanding amongst the group. It could be a mix of group discussion, and individual introspection, or it could be done in pairs.

Ask each team to jot down any insights, patterns, themes and ideas that arise from the analysis. At the end of the session, each team should have a sheet (or two) full of insights that they can then present to the group.

Task II: Designing Value Propositions (30 mins)

The goal of this activity is to design value propositions that represent the organization's opportunity to help the hero along their journey.

Each team should now have thematic insights that have been discussed with the group. The insights should express how the organization could help each individual hero along their journey.

Examples of themes could be:

  • Connecting people
  • Providing valuable, timely information
  • Accurately identifying problems
  • etc.

The next step is to break each team into pairs and to allow each pair to choose an insight that they want to articulate in the form of a value proposition. Pairs can choose the same insight, that is not a problem. If there are too many insights to choose from, try a quick dot-voting process to prioritize and reduce the number of candidates.

The next step is to articulate that insight in the form of a value proposition. This can be a difficult process, so breaking a proposition into its core components often makes it easier.

Value propositions have a few core components:

  • Target audience (person type)
  • Problem
  • Proposed Solution
  • Form that the solution takes (type of product, service, etc...)
  • Differentiator
  • Competitor(s)

Most value proposition templates (or elevator pitches) are based on the components above. The problem with templates is that it reduces the designer's ability to handle cognitive load and explore a wide range of options for each component at once. That being said, the next step is a suggestion for making this process much easier.

Ask each pair to write down each value proposition component on a sticky note, one-by-one, and spread them out onto a wall or table. Using a different color of sticky note, have the pairs write down every possible option for each component. Word choice is key here, but instead of thinking too much just write down every possible option for each component.

Each pair should end up with a map of options for each component of their value proposition. Each pair can then analyze which combination of options would best articulate their value proposition. Pairs can then input the chosen options into a template or create their own structure to communicate the value proposition best.

Here's a resource for a few different value proposition templates:

Task III: Presenting Value Propositions (30 mins)

The goal of the last and final session is to create shared understanding across the group about the value propositions designed in the previous session.

A few tips that might be helpful when pitching the propositions to the rest of the group:

  • Try telling the story of the hero.
  • Express why you chose the problem you did.
  • Explain how the problem is an opportunity for the organization.
  • Articulate how your solution could help the hero along their journey.
  • Use evidence to explain 'why' this solution would be a good fit for the hero and their problem.

Part II: The End

Once all pairs have presented their propositions, the organization will have a diverse range of product / service concepts that solve real problems for the people identified in their research. This two-part workshop provides a framework where participants don't need to be human-centered designers in order to perform human-centered design. The goal of the workshop is to use empathy as a guide to collaboratively define and solve problems. Stories are simply the tool we use to evoke empathy and insight in the process.


The detailed description of the Hero's Journey workshop captures a majority of an 8-week project process at Clearleft. If you want to read about the lessons we learned along the way, check out my 90 Day Blog where I chronicle each day of my 90-day journey at Clearleft.

Positioning heroes as user proxies in the design process was a very effective way to create empathy within the project team. Because heroes have a backstory and a motivated trajectory, they seem to be more effective in representing real people within the context of a design project. Our activities leaned on a working knowledge the craft of storytelling which I acquired over the past 12-years of my life as a writer.

I'm sure there are regions to be further explored and ways to improve these activities. That's why I've decided to invest the time I have into sharing them publicly.

At the very least I learned by experimenting with design process. Even as an intern working on my first project at Clearleft, I was given the autonomy to try new things. Thank you for the trust Clearleft.

I think the outcomes of the experiments speak volumes about Clearleft as a company, their values and their culture. I don't know of any other companies that give their interns such high levels of autonomy. It's been a pleasure working here and I can't wait to see what happens next.

(This post first appeared on