Storyboards & Diaries: 
Time for Show and Tell


Effective change requires clear communications.  When you tell others about your efforts, you become more committed to them.  Surprisingly, when you tell others about personal improvement you also get to understand yourself better.  How do you tell, is up to you.  Some use paper and pencil diaries, others use emails, still others use slides.  Whatever you do, keep in mind that this is about you and in time you may see it as a message from your past to your future.

The purpose of a story board is to summarize and visually present your lifestyle routines, the solution and the impact of the solution on the habit you want to change. It serves as a communication medium to others around you. It also serves the project team as a documentation of their progress to date. Because people living together are focused on many different directions, it is important to make sure that your storyboard attracts attention.  Story boards is a form of public reporting. Story boards is also a celebration of your success and in this manner it provides a positive environment for change.

What should be done?

Here are brief steps to follow if you are constructing a story board.   Divide the story board into the following sections:

  1. Title of the project or statement of the problem.  Include the project's name and the authors initials (do not include emails or other contact
  2. Permission for display.  Include a statement from project participants whether the story board can be in public domain (e.g. the web)
  3. information if the storyboard maybe posted on the web)
  4. Description of the problem.  A problem is best articulated using data and a vivid quote from the customer.
  5. Process flow chart or list of routines. Describe the current situation
  6. Fish bone diagram or list of solutions.  List possible solutions examined and mark the solutions implemented
  7. Control chart or indications of success.  Provide data on impact of the change
  8. Future plans & conclusions.  

Here is a layout of what goes where if the sections were included in one large poster:

The same section titles can be used to create a storyboard through a series of slides.  If you know Microsoft Power Point, you can download a  template that you can use to organize your storyboards.   Download►

Make the Storyboard Better

Here are simple steps you can take to make your storyboard or diary better:

  1. Put your storyboard where you and others can see it on a daily basis.   No point in telling a story if there is no one (including you) who sees it.
  2. Add sections as they become available. The idea is to generate a sense of anticipation and unfolding as the story is told.
  3. Organize the story well. Put time into keeping a chronicle of what happens to you.
  4. Be honest and discus relapses and the reasons behind them.  A storyboard should help you gain insight into what is going on.
  5. Write little and show more by pictures and drawings. Have fun in the design and content.
  6. Include some pictures of team members working together. 
  7. Leave the story board up for several months even after the change has been adopted. Data shows that post-sales activities help improve adoption of innovations.  A continued exposure to a story board will remind you of the effort you made and the success you had.  
  8. Allow for input from others. Let them write on the storyboard directly and modify it as they see fit.  People like what they participate in creating.

Narrate the Storyboard

One way to tell your story is to narrate your presentation.  Savvy managers use media to make their points to employees through out the firm.  In doing so, they make sure that different employees hear of the process improvement as it progresses.  In narrating slides, please keep the following advice in mind:

  1. Make all of your slides before starting the narration.  Your entire narration should not be more than 10 minutes.
  2. Do not use animation, it usually conflicts with narration on a machine that works at a different speed.
  3. Duplicate slides that have a list of items so that each item is on a separate slide
  4. Do not put too much text on slides.  Do not use full sentences, abbreviate to key phrases.
  5. Once all slides are done, copy the script you want to read as full text sentences on top of your slides so that you can read your narration while looking at the slide.
  6. Narrate all of your slides at one sitting.  If errors occur continue with the effort.  Video►
  7. Post narrated videos to the web.   More► 

Not sure if you should do this?

Many improvement projects fail to create a story board. Or if they do, they create the board only after the fact. This is a mistake and these projects are not taking advantage of an important communication tool. When you make the storyboard on the first day of the project, it begins to tell that something is up. As time goes on, it unfolds a story about what the team is up to. The climax of the story is reached when the control chart is posted showing the improvement. Story boards are the team's public minutes. It helps integrate the rest of the deliberations. Unfortunately, many are not comfortable with taking advantage of mass communication tools, like a storyboard.  But real lasting change requires help from others who share the environment.  Without the storyboard, others are not aware and cannot contribute to changes in the environment.  Some think that their privacy is more important.  But people who live with you know of your habits, now they can learn of your success.   Some worry, what if I fail to improve.  If change does not occur, you are not to be blamed.  You need to seek changes in the environment.  The storyboard focuses the need to change back on the environment and off your back.

If you are doing a personal project, story boards help keep you focused over time. Even when you live alone, your attention waivers; a storyboard will remind you of what you were thinking before.  It helps you keep perspective of where you are coming from and where you want to go. 

This page is part of the course on Quality, the lecture on Personal Improvement.  It was last edited on 04/29/20 by Farrokh Alemi, Ph.D.  Copyright protected.