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Storyboarding: Framing and Reframing Opportunities in the Front-Front end of Innovation

Research group:

Publication Type:

Doctoral Thesis


Mälardalen University


This research proposes that design and visual thinking in combination with narrative theory contribute to enhance knowledge of innovation processes and support managers in their work. In particular, the focus is on the use of Storyboarding to support a better definition of a project’s brief. Innovation studies have shown that the initial phases of innovation processes (typically called the “front end of innovation”) are crucial for success. A proper definition of a brief, that occurs at the front of the front end, is therefore one of the most relevant events in innovation. This study investigates the early phases of innovation by developing and evaluating a new method for developing a brief.First, an explorative approach has been used in order to develop knowledge of challenges in the front end of innovation and how design thinking, visual thinking and narratives can bring new insights in teamwork. In this explorative search the use of case studies has been employed. Then, the explorative search has focused onthe use of Storyboarding as a tool for reflection, and in particular for igniting dynamics of framing and reframing of innovation problems. Finally, in order to create a deeper knowledge in the use of storyboarding three hypotheses has been evaluated, four experiments has been conducted with the involvement of more than 60 people defining innovation briefs. In these experiments, storyboarding (visual and narrative) has been used to support “thinking” that leads to the brief. In other words, storyboarding has been seen as a process to enable innovation teams to think differently or more precisely, rather than just a tool to represent or to communicate the brief. The experiments show that using storyboarding has effects that can support innovation management. First, storyboarding is useful if management wants to “stimulate” a reflection on meaning when developing a brief, i.e. when they want an innovation team to consider both utilitarian and emotional/symbolic factors in an innovation process. Second, Storyboarding brings a narrower focus, compared to traditional written briefs, within the “area of interest” brought up by management, which sometimes may be asked for when the organization is in search for reframing the direction of innovation.


author = {Anders Wikstr{\"o}m},
title = {Storyboarding: Framing and Reframing Opportunities in the Front-Front end of Innovation},
isbn = {978-91-7485-117-5},
year = {2013},
school = {M{\"a}lardalen University},
url = {}