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Aim of the tool
To develop the storyline of the change process that you envisage in relation to your (proposed) development initiative

When to use it?
Once you have described the actual situation, you can use it as input into your final planning process of the intervention (e.g., consolidation in logical framework, etc.)

How difficult is it to use it?
Easy – moderate – for experienced users/facilitators

Tool for thought or tool for action?
Tool for thought and for action

This tool stimulates you to use the right part of your brain (creativity, intuition, etc.) It also helps you to really think through a change process.

Issues to be aware of
Methods like this one are often skipped because of time limitations. People tend to move quickly on to the action plan. We strongly believe, however, that you will miss out on some valuable processes if you do not take time to encourage people to take a moment to picture the change that they would like to see as a result of the intervention

Description of the tool
This tool can be likened to the storyboards developed prior to the shooting of a video film. It is a way of planning the scene and visualising beforehand what will happen. Storyboards are graphic organisers or illustrations or images displayed in sequence for the purpose of pre-visualising a motion picture, animation, motion graphic or interactive media sequence.

You can use a similar process to help prepare a group of stakeholders for a change process. People often take many things for granted when they develop the rationale for a project proposal; this is because they tend to think in a very linear way (left part of the brain). The storyboard method allows you to think more with the right part of your brain in the form of a ‘story of change’, which draws on your imagination and creativity so that you can visualise the change they hope for and turn it into a storyboard.

This tool can be used as part of a theory of change process.

Examples: Sketches of storyboards

Steps involved in using the tool

  • Storyboards can be done in two ways, in:
    • book format (multiple pages where the sequence shows from the order of the pages) – there is a maximum of 10 pages, on each page there is a picture and ¼ page comments.
    • tree format (like an objective tree) – here there are multiple A-4 sized papers used to represent the stages of the envisaged change process. Here papers can hang side by side, if the changes are meant to occur in parallel.
  • For each page/picture of the process, write some commentary, in terms of the:
    • associated assumptions and risks, 
    • critical roles to be played (by whom), 
    • capacities and conditions that will need to be in place, etc. 
  • Consolidation
    • Summarise your discussions based on the points above
    • Assess feasibility concerns, the implications for M&E (what to keep an eye on in terms of the critical processes), etc.
    • Adjust the ‘intervention logic’ (theory of action) if the above steps point to concerns that ask for adaptation.

Source and further readings
This tool was developed by the Centre for Development Innovation in 2013

Websites (video related references (for film))