Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Meet Aaron Sherman, Founder of Storyboard That

Storyboard That, founded by Aaron Sherman, is an innovative technology to rapidly and easily create storyboards online. Storyboards have countless applications in the business and educational world. They are also a lot of fun! Aaron has a BS in management, and an MS in Computer Science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). He worked for 9+ years in both technology and marketing across the globe in Boston, Barcelona, and Sydney and brings to the table a powerful vantage point of common problems regardless of location and an astute understanding of communication opportunities.

1. What is it about the combination of words and pictures used in storyboards that encourages creativity?

Research has long shown that most people learn and remember better with a visual aspect. At their core, people are storytellers, and we best communicate and engage in that fashion. Combing pictures and words gives you storyboards.

2. How have you found storyboards helpful in your own personal and professional work?

Having spent a fair amount of time in the corporate world, both as a technologist and a marketer, I have witnessed more times than I can count the two sides unable to easily communicate. For marketers, the 'problem" and therefore "solution" is so obvious they don't understand why the developers "don't get it." Meanwhile, on the technology side, the developers are juggling so many activities, they don't understand why a marketing request is important or how it fits into the bigger picture. By breaking down an idea into a very simple story, it lets both sides look at the same problem together, and I apologize for the pun, but be "on the same page" and then work together towards a joint solution.

On a personal side storyboards are just fun. I get tremendous pleasure reading and looking at the creativity of Storyboard That's global audience. It also gives me an excuse to practice my Spanish trying to understand some of my audience.

3. What makes storyboards useful in schools as well as in business settings?

Effective communication and communication via storytelling are critical skills in today's workplace. In order to be effective, authors need to figure out what they want to say, why they want to say it, and how they are going to say it. Storyboards are a very powerful framework for this because they force the author to be concise (3-6 cells), think in a linear fashion (storyboards force the questions of "what's next"), and clearly show context of who, when, and where.

When students create book reports via storyboards, they are practicing these critical skills without realizing it. As students mature and their storyboards become more sophisticated, again and again they are breaking down their thoughts into bite-sized, easily consumable chunks.

4. What are the benefits of using the tools on your website to share storyboards with other people, rather than just making storyboards for brainstorming (etc) and not sharing them?

In my entire life I cannot think of one example where I shared work with someone and did not leave with new ideas and a different perspective. I constantly share my own storyboards with my fiancé to get her opinion on dialog and imagery or even find out if I missed the point completely. People are social: we like to talk, and we love to criticize and give feedback. Every storyboard has its own URL, so it is easy to send it to a friend.

That being said there is nothing wrong with making a few storyboards just to privately organize your thoughts.

5. How do you see Storyboard That growing over the next few years?

Storyboard That and its parent company Clever Prototypes are at their infancy right now. Clever Prototypes' stated mission is to help develop solutions to make people enjoy their days more by improving communication, ideation, and looking for ways to take old tasks and make them more fun. The focus right now is on continuously making our storyboard creator the best technology out there and making it easier for people to access it.

Thanks, Aaron!

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