Cover story canvas

The Cover story canvas ® challenges you and your team to project yourselves in the future: how will the world respond to what you have accomplished at that time. Mind you, this tool will (probably) not provide you with a turnkey vision. But it will challenge you to think beyond the realm of the known and safe. Why else would there be a story about your company in one of the world’s bestselling magazines? This canvas will provide you with plenty of material you can use when formulating your actual vision. Furthermore, because it’s tactile and visual, the vision canvas will elicit tons of feedback.

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How to use the canvas

To get started, huddle as a team (or, even better, multiple teams) and have a thoughtful discussion about what magazine you’d like to be featured in once you’ve achieved your vision. It’s important to have this conversation, as the tone, voice, and readership of the particular magazine make a big difference. Whatever you decide on, you’ll find this conversation fun and stimulating.

Once you’ve decided on your magazine, move on to the headline. What are the biggest, most inspirational headlines you can think of? How are you changing the world (or at least your organization) with your idea? This article will talk about your major achievement, but will also recount the story of where you started and how you got to your a-ha moment. What’s the bottom line, the facts and figures that support the headline? Capture those as well.

As in any magazine article, there’s going to be some kind of interview component. What questions will be asked? How will you answer? How will your skeptics show up? What are people saying on social media?

Now comes the fun part! Draw your story. Magazines are very visual. Make your magazine cover story visual as well. Who or what’s on the cover? How will this grab the reader (i.e., your team)?


1. Cover
Make the cover really jump out. Don’t limit yourself to just sticky notes. Draw or cut and paste pictures from magazines.
2. Headlines
Put down some eye-popping headlines. What would make people stop in their tracks and read the article?
3. Interview
Who is telling your story in the interview? Is it someone you work with? Your customer? What is the interview about?
4. Bottom line
What does it all boil down to? What has been achieved according to the article?
5. Social Media
Use social media and Instagram photos to add more fl avor to your story. What would get retweeted?
Don’t just mention the positive quotes. Ask yourself how your competition and critics will respond
7. Instagram pictures
What are the snapshots taken during your journey? What will end up on instagram?

Step by step guide

Before you start

Arrange for a comfortable environment. Definitely not a meeting room. Create a creative athmosphere and have plenty of colorful materials and magazines at the ready.


⊗ Arrange a relaxed, positive and private environment

⊗ Have markers (fine tip) and paper for everybody

⊗ Print or draw the canvas on a big sheet of paper

⊗ Have plenty of sticky notes and markers ready

Bring some awesome magazines to inspire the group


Choose a magazine 

Have a discussion with the group about the year you’re designing the story for as well as the magazine. Is it 5 years from now? 20 years? And choose the magazine. In fact, the magazine in this case is very important. The group should discuss why one magazine over another. Could it be Wired? Time Magazine? An industry magazine? A newspaper? Write these on sticky notes!


Create the cover story

Now that you have defined a year in the future and your publication, it is time to come up with the cover. Use the template to come up with headlines, quotes and anecdotes. What else is going on in the world? What is the story that captivates the magazine’s audience? Why? Finally, draw the picture that will be on the front!


Next steps

When you’re done with your cover story, everyone in your group should be pretty jazzed about the future of your idea. I mean, this is the best future you all can imagine, right?! Now it’s time to make it more concrete and validate it with others.



Make your cover story concrete by using the 5 bold steps vision canvas

Check to see how this vision resonates with others


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