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The Storyboarding Story

Storyboarding is a technique that illustrates the power of "Displayed Thinking", a concept created by Mike Vance, former Director of Ideas and People Development for the Disney Corporation. "Displayed Thinking" describes a visual group process that has proven people work more effectively in groups or teams when they can see the ideas they generate. The visual nature of Storyboarding is what makes it such a powerful facilitation tool.

The concept of Storyboarding is not new. Artists such as DaVinci were using the concept of visually sequencing their ideas for creations hundreds of years ago. Frank Lloyd Wright's studio/Library in Oak Park, Illinois was full of what we now call "storyboards."

Perhaps no one is more closely associated with modern day storyboarding than Walt Disney. Disney and his brother had many early entertainment industry failures. When they broke out into success, the use of storyboards played a key role, both in animation and later, business planning.

Early animators worked much like monks, who before the invention of the printing press spent years transcribing Bibles (one Bible one monk). Disney recognized that a team of animators could work together to develop a cartoon through a more rapid collaborative process if they could share their work. Rather than working in isolation, they came together in front of storyboards where animation cells could be displayed, then easily moved around into a proper sequence. Disney soon realized he could use this concept to plan a business and began using storyboards as a brainstorming tool.

After the arrival of Mike Vance, who also served as Dean of Disney University, the storyboard process evolved into a full-fledged planning process. Vance took it beyond brainstorming by adding action planning and communication development pieces. It is reported that by using the storyboard process, the Disney folks created the plans for Disney World in Florida in ten days. The initial storyboard was used as a management tool to develop the new amusement megaplex, which was completed ahead of time and under budget.

Throughout the years others have added to the process and it is now widely used by companies and organizations throughout the world.

The DACUM Occupational Analysis technique is a part of that continued development. DACUM uses the storyboard technology as the basis of its process to facilitate the development of a job profile by a focus group of high performing incumbent workers. The panel of workers builds a wall full of the duties and tasks that make up their job. Because of the focus and flexibility, the group can develop the job profile quickly and edit and refine it in a more collaborative fashion.
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