How to develop actions creatively [Yes! And. Blog #137]

Here’s a simple but powerful tool to identify actions creatively.

How to develop an action plan creatively

Action Storyboard Example

“To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Today, I sat in the cockpit of a 737 aircraft as the pilot landed very smoothly at Phnom Penh  airport in Cambodia. Ten minutes later, I was home in London.

No, time travel has not come to London. I was with my son as we observed a crew flying a flight simulator. This is an annual “trip” of flying a full sized Boeing 737 BBJ flight simulator around the world in aid of charity Dreamflight. 

They are raising money by flying 24 hours a day for 7 days as part of a team of eight crews, using “air traffic controllers”  around the world to guide them in to the airports, a stunning effort.

Before you think, “There are plenty of flight simulators around,” you should know that amateurs build all these. Fellow Yes! And blog reader, Ralph Watson built the one I visited, in a garage. His accomplishment is quite astounding and my son thought it “awesome!”

Ralph showed me on his web site the progression of his simulator from a desktop computer in 2001 to the full sized version you can see today by going to his web site, http://www.737-800bbj.com.  [Take a look at the Kai Tak link too!]

As he explained it, I thought how well his journey from 2001 to today might have been mapped out using the creative tool I will explain here.

The tool is Action Storyboard that is based on one called Cartoon Storyboard, developed by Jane Henry, formerly of the Open University [UK].

This tool helps you to clarify your goal, how you might reach it and any potential blockages along the way. You can use flipchart or A4 paper.

Process Steps

  1. Place your paper in the landscape position and draw lines to make six rectangles, labelling them 1 – 6 or use six sheets of paper.
  2. Relax yourself and form an image in your mind of your goal. Imagine that you are there and you have implemented successfully. What are you sensing? What are people saying? What are you feeling, doing etc.?
  3. Next, create a time period for each box.
  4. Draw a picture in box 6 that conveys to you that successful situation. You don’t need to be an expert artist; you can draw stick figures. Don’t “try” to draw, just sketch it out.
  5. Bring your mind back to the present time. Sense the major components of the current situation. Draw the situation in box 1.
  6. Boxes 2 – 5 are intermediate steps. Repeat the process you used in boxes 1 and 6, imagining that you are taking four intermediate steps to move successfully from the present situation to the successful outcome.
  7. When you have completed the pictures, consider them. What might block your progress at each step? At the bottom of each box, write in the challenge you face using the wording, “How to…?” For example, if your obstacle is a lack of funds you could write, “How to obtain funds?”, turning your obstacle in to a positive challenge.
  8. Take some time to review the picture and what it means to you. You might like to discuss it with someone or leave it on the wall so you can reflect on it for a few days.
  9. If you find that it is valid, move to create your action plan by identifying the actions in each step. If you find after some thought and discussion that it is not valid, you can use it to help you identify issues to tackle.

SO

Advantages

  • It produces a combination of your conscious and subconscious thinking
  • It helps you to work out whether actions are in the right place and if not, to move them (for this reason you might like to use sheets of A4 paper rather than a flipchart)
  • If used in teams it encourages creative discussion and is much more stimulating than producing a list of actions
  • Some people feel uncomfortable that they can’t draw; it really does not make a difference
  • You can do a similar exercise by verbalising. Put six sheets of paper on the floor. Stand on sheet 6 and describe the future to a partner. Next, walk back to a sheet 1 and describe this. Now make four steps between the two points and describe the action you are taking to achieve the “future”
  • If you don’t feel artistic, fill the boxes with bullet point actions; this is quicker but less stimulating. Remember to make your action statements clear, i.e. have a verb at the beginning of the sentence

Disadvantage

  • Some people feel uncomfortable that they can’t draw; it really does not make a difference
  • You can do a similar exercise by verbalising. Put six sheets of paper on the floor. Stand on sheet 6 and describe the future to a partner. Next, walk back to a sheet 1 and describe this. Now make four steps between the two points and describe the action you are taking to achieve the “future”
  • If you don’t feel artistic, fill the boxes with bullet point actions; this is quicker but less stimulating. Remember to make your action statements clear, i.e. have a verb at the beginning of the sentence

Tips

  • You can do a similar exercise by verbalising. Put six sheets of paper on the floor. Stand on sheet 6 and describe the future to a partner. Next, walk back to a sheet 1 and describe this. Now make four steps between the two points and describe the action you are taking to achieve the “future”
  • If you don’t feel artistic, fill the boxes with bullet point actions; this is quicker but less stimulating. Remember to make your action statements clear, i.e. have a verb at the beginning of the sentence
  • Rather than having the same time period for each box, you might have a shorter period for the initial boxes and increase it as you move to the later boxes. E.g. the first three boxes might be one month periods and the next three boxes, three month periods

Action

Use the tool and see if it works for you.

To Close

If you would like to find out what Dreamflight is, do take an opportunity to look at the Dreamflight site. It is heart warming

Have a great week.

John Brooker I Yes! And. Think Innovatively.

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