Visual story tool

Estimated Time
60-90 minutes
Resource Type

This tool is an extract from the ‘Visual toolbox for system innovation’ – a resource book developed by EIT Climate-KIC to support capabilities in mapping, analysing and facilitating sustainability transitions.

The visual story tool helps users to imagine and describe the ideal future that would happen as a consequence of succeeding in a project.  The objective is to suspend disbelief and envision a future state that is so positive that it ends up on the cover of a media publication. To do that, the activity challenges users to describe, with words and pictures, the successful future outcome and the process to reach it.

The tool explains the importance of story telling capabilities in a visioning process for addressing transformative system innovation. It sets out how an imaginative approach provides opportunities to introduce disruptive ideas that are disconnected from the present time and therefore make the process of disruptive thinking more accessible, facilitating radical innovation.

The authors suggest that use of this tool can be followed by a backcasting process (available on pp. 126-135 of the Visual toolbox) to root the vision in reality.



The ‘Visual toolbox for system innovation: A resource book for practitioners to map, analyse and facilitate sustainability transitions’ was edited by Climate-KIC Transitions Hub and Climate-KIC Professional Education

Transitions Hub
Alice Bauer, Transitions Hub Manager
Cristian Matti, Learning and Knowledge Manager
Jon Bloomfield, Advisory Board
Aled Thomas, Advisory Board
Christoph Auch, Advisory Board
Fred Steward, Advisory Board
Hannes Utikal, Advisory Board

Climate-KIC Education
Ebrahim Mohamed, Director of Education
Christoph Auch, Professional Education Lead
Anne Bartens, Education Manager

Cristian Matti and Alice Bauer

Javier de Vicente. System innovation consultant and facilitator

Technical review
Bence Fülöp, Boelie Elzen, Dave Green, Jose Andringa, Kati Berniger, Lydia Sterrenberg, Markus Allbauer, Richard Bubb, Roberto Colucci, Sergio Belda, Suzanne van den Bosch and Tijmen Altena

Graphic design
Paula Rincón de Arellano

Copy editor
Lee Monk

The Visual Story tool is built on the Cover Story, developed by the visual meetings company The Grove (Macanufo et al. 2010).


De Vicente Lopez, J. and Matti, C. (2016). Visual toolbox for system innovation. A resource book for practitioners to map, analyse and facilitate sustainability transitions (pp.119-125). Transitions Hub Series. Climate-KIC, Brussels 2016. Available at

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