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«Storyboarding» is a great management tool as it facilitates the creative-thinking process. It lets you take yopur ideas and display them so a larger group can work on a project or solve a problem by benefiting from clear directions and guidelines.

To understand a "storyboard" - remember how a comic strip tells a complete story in only four panels.

Storyboards gives participants total immersion in a scenario, letting them see how everything fits together. "Run it up the flagpole and we'll see how it flies.." captures the essence of the process. Wanting to achieve full feature animation, Walt Disney used storyboards as far back as 1928. Having to produce and keep track of great numbers of images, he had his artists pin their drawings on the studio walls. In this way, their progress could be checked and scenes were easily added or discarded. A long time before that Leonardo da Vinci put his ideas up on the walls to examine them.

Storyboarding works specially well in group sessions because when you put your thoughts into some sense of order, you begin to see connections, how the various ideas relate to one another and how all the pieces come together into a whole. You can also see what ideas might be missing. When ideas start flowing, they take on a life of their own; then the people working on a storyboard become immersed in exploring the scenario, situation or solution and work their way from panel to panel. People can "hitch-hike" onto each other's ideas and a story will evolve unexpectedly but ever creatively.


How do you get good ideas? Get a lot of ideas and throw out the bad ones. To make a simple storyboard use cork or a similar surface that allows you to pin up index cards. Start with a general topic card and under that, place several header cards that contain general categories or particular considerations, etc.. Under those cards, put sub-headers with themes that fall under the header; the sub-headers can list details or ideas generated in the creative-thinking session that support the headers or need to be developped - then list as many ideas as you can generate.

Try the 5 major kinds of storyboard:

Idea boards let people trade information in a continuous "brainstorming". A cork board as described above, a large "bulletin board", a chalkboard, a dedicated wall painted with flat white or an Internet BBS can also be used. Idea boards should be created around specific themes and they need to be fed and cleaned regularly:

Planning boards let people see processes, steps and timelines. Think of a recipe - knowing what you are cooking assures that meal will turn out as expected. Strategy can plotted and "possibility scenarios" added or deleted at will.

I like using 12" shelf-lining paper to plan out scenarios and events. I'll tape several feet (to represent a numbers of hours, days, or weeks, etc.) eye-level on a wall (some plastic kinds have an adhesive backing like Post-It Notes). I draw a horizontal line midway along its length, use vertical lines to space out the time sequence and thus make time-space panels. Places or strategic components I'm certain about are noted above the horizontal line while variables - flexibles, hopes and suppositions - are noted below that line. Events in the panels are color-coded with felt-tips or glued-in from sources like magazine pix and such.. Every panel represents a scenario and the whole sequence is my event script.

Whenever I move past that wall I see potentials and strategies. Find your own variations on the technique and you will be amazed at how your next month - or year or two - can look at a strategic glance. .

Organization boards let you see who's who, what's what, where's where and when's when. Getting feedback for several collaborators is easy when the feedback process is structured on boards that have "fill in the blanks" panels . Presentation tools like PowerPoint can be used to present ideas in a logical order and they let you to benefit simple from visual cues; emailing a presentation around will let others shift things around to give you another slant on things.

Creation boards should have discipline and regular follow-ups included in their process so that people contribute various kinds of input, at specific times. Let contributors experiment with different media. Make color, sound, texture, form, etc., as part of the process. Explore the organic ways that relationships come together and come undone to help with transitions and communication. Use conscious provocation and outside resources to add to a mix.

Communication boards should be facilitated sessions wherein a diversity of contributors deposit their ideas as they get specific but limited instructions. Try large sheets of paper and colored Post-it notes at strategic places. How about a telephone-answering machine where people can phone in 24-7? Ideas could be transcribed and forwarded to all collaborators. A sign-in webpage or an intranet site works well for this purpose.

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