"Genius is in-born, may it never be still-born."

"Oysters, irritated by grains of sand, give birth to pearls. Brains, irritated by curiosity, give birth to ideas."

"Brainpower is the bridge to the future; it is what transports you from wishful thinking to willful doing."

"Unless you keep learning & growing, the status quo has no status."

Sunday, February 1, 2009


In retrospect, I had actually learned the storyboarding technique from the intellectual works of three gurus (not in any particular order):

One is Mike Vance, the creativity guru who once worked with the legendary Walt Disney & his animation studios. [He now runs the Creative Association of America creativity consulting outfit.]

The second one is Jerry McNellis, who calls his storyboarding methodology, 'compression planning', in conjunction with group problem solving.

The last one is David Sibbet of Grove Consultants International. David's methodology has a different twist to it, as it resonates more closely with what is now known as 'graphic facilitation', in conjunction with strategic visionising.

I still own the basic equipment, materials & resources, which I had procured from each of them respectively during the nineties.

It is often acknowledged that the legendary Walt Disney pioneered the storyboarding methodology.

Incidentally, Mike Vance wrote the book, 'Think Out of The Box', with Diane Deacon in the nineties. The book had a profile on Walt Disney, among many others.

Mike Vance calls his storyboarding process, as applied to creative thinking, 'displayed thinking'.

In this particular post, I will only concentrate on talking about my personal adaptation & single user experience with storyboarding.

In subsequent posts, I will share my insights with regard to each of the above-mentioned storyboarding &/or graphic facilitation processes, within the context of group dynamics.

In the light of its original & predominant usage in the movie world, a storyboard is just a visual organisation of the exact movie sequences, usually in the form of rough sketches drawn by artists, & arranged in a logical sequence, before the actual filming.

The storyboard, in this case, allows the movie director to define, show &/or flesh out some important aspects of the movie, together with the actors & actresses &/or action director, who will take care of the action choreography.

I have always used an adaptation of the original storyboarding process as envisaged by Walt Disney in my training design & development.

One of my early fellow trainers has often said to me, there are only three important elements in any successful training workshop:

1) Substance;

2) Sequence;

3) Showmanship;

I often use a rudimentary version of the storyboard to fulfill the second element.

To execute, you can use a white board or even a flip chart.

Firstly, jot down what you intend to teach the participants, & write each idea in a post-it note.

One idea, one note.

Next, display the completed note on to the board or flip-chart.

Then, repeat this process until all possible ideas are captured on post-it notes.

Upon final completion, i.e. after displaying all the completed notes on the board or flip chart, just stand back to take a close look. A big picture view, so to speak.

When you think of a new idea, just jot it them & paste the note into the arrangement.

Or if you think one of the ideas does not fit in for some reasons, just remove it.

Shift or shuffle the completed notes around to complete your intended sequence.

If necessary, think of idea clusters, especially when the training needs to extend into two or more days.

The post-it notes allow you to do wonders. You can also use different colour post-it notes to denote different idea clusters.

Once you are happy with the final arrangement, i.e. the storyboard, you can proceed to write out the curriculum for your training design.

In a brainstorming session, you can also use the storyboard to work out the sequential steps of implementation.

I often take the opportunity to teach small kids how to use the storyboard to fish out important aspects in the life history of any famous person.

For example, I will give the kids a comic book on Albert Einstein.

Then, with the aid of an A2 sized construction paper, some post-it notes of 3 colours, & through the journalists' questions (5W1H), I will get them to chart out the life history of the famous person, especially his major influences & notable accomplishments, covering three phases of his life as follows:

- as a young boy;

- as a young man;

- as a successful physicist;

Like me, kids are always fascinated by Albert Einstein as well as the power of storyboarding.

They are most happy to use the opportunity to display their memory skills as well as drawing/sketching abilities, in addition to learning a useful planning tool.

In a subsequent post, I will also share with readers another variation of mine, with regard to storyboarding.

In execution, it's actually my fully adapted version of the industry-strength 'PERT CHART', a visual planning & project management tool, for parents to help their kids & teenagers to chart out their academic as well as life pursuits.

In his excellent book, 'Surfing the Intellect: Building Intellectual Capital for the Knowledge Economy', Dilip Mukerjea, has introduced a more elaborate form of storyboarding, under 'Creativity Technique #10: Storyboarding: The Disney Methodology', from page 123 to 131.

Another good book that touches on the 'Disney Methodology' is William Capodagli & Lynn Jackson's 'The Disney Way'.

The beauty of storyboarding is this: It makes your thinking VISIBLE!

As one of the gurus put it: Think it! See it! Do it!

As a group process, it's great fun, & synergy happens when everybody is having fun!

It also leverages collaborative time. It gets every body on their feet, facing the storyboards on the wall, fully involved in the outcome. Best of all, it fully utilises multiple avenues of learning modalities.

[to be continued in the Next Post.]

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