Look at the steps in your process.
OK, you've just finished a long planning session for a new initiative. You're on your way home, but you can't get rid of the feeling that you've forgotten something important. Does this sound familiar?
Then it hits you: There's a critical flaw in the plan, meaning that you'll have to call your team back in tomorrow, and start the process all over again.
It's a terrible feeling, and one that we've probably all experienced. We might have avoided this problem, however, if we had used a simple planning tool that the film industry has relied on for decades: the storyboard.
In the film industry, storyboards are simply a way of looking at the movie, laid out camera-shot-by-camera-shot, with still pictures – before filming actually begins. For example, the storyboard for Scene One opens with an image of what that first shot, or camera angle, will look like. The next shot, from a different angle, shows in the next picture on the storyboard. With each new camera shot or action, a new picture is added.
In a business environment, it's the same idea. But instead of making a movie, you might be planning a product launch, managing a project, creating a marketing strategy, building a new process, or identifying a cause-and-effect relationship.
Your storyboard, then, would detail each step in the process. But instead of using words and writing out a "to do" list, your storyboard allows you to see everything that must happen. As a group, your team creates a detailed outline of the steps that need to take place. Then they work to spot problems, identify complications, and rearrange tasks as necessary. Storyboards are "loose": they encourage creativity and experimentation, and they can be very effective in the planning process.
Storyboards are also useful for building group unity and agreement, and teams using them tend to find it easier to make decisions. This is because everyone can get involved, and there's a much greater level of enthusiasm and commitment.
Storyboards work because they tell a story in a visual way. When people have something to look at, it's much easier to understand concepts, interpret diagrams or charts, and visualize the future.
It doesn't matter if it's a movie plot or the story of your company's new product. Storyboards can change any kind of data into something living and dynamic. They can turn the sometimes-boring process of planning into an interactive, fun experience for everyone involved.
Creating a storyboard isn't as hard as it might seem. We'll give you step-by-step instructions, and then show you an example, so you can see the process of storyboarding in action.
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