Archive for the ‘drawing’ Tag

Phriday photo and phun

Playing with charcoal is a direct, fun, and revealing way to listen to the wisdom of your hands. Don’t try to be an artist, just see what happens when you grab a big old piece of charcoal and let it dance on the paper.

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Business and drawing again

One more post about business and drawing.  It’s strange even to look at those two words together.  Our society makes easy connections between business and writing or speaking, business and science or math, business and research or analysis.  But referring to business and drawing sounds to us like combining seriousness with play, and how can that be a valid endeavor?

At this time of global shifts in everything, it’s appropriate to change up all our assumptions: to play with our seriousness and to be serious about our play.  Marketing’s concern is the whole person of its clientele, the heart and soul of customers as much as their intelligence.  Using traditional tools and approaches in marketing and problem solving limits the choices unacceptably:  our perceptions must widen far beyond  technical parameters and encompass factors that seem at first glance to be only distantly related to our issue.  Allowing ourselves to perceive this wider and more detailed picture brings us into contact with possibilities heretofore hidden from us. 

Using drawing – or shall we just call it making marks – puts us directly in touch with possibility, and a way of perceiving that makes accessible a new kind of objectivity and analysis.  The practice can be applied by the individual to dissect an issue or meaningfully use down time; it can be used between two people to assist in finding common ground and to clarify communications; and it can be used in groups to boost engagement and simplify teamwork. 

Though radical, this concept is not at all fanciful.  I picture people routinely slipping into mark-making as they converse, having become habituated to accessing this non-linear way of perceiving.  We have been imprisoned by our left-brainedness, and we will discover new worlds of possibility by loosening those bonds through drawing.

Drawing in meetings

David Armano talked on Logic + Emotion a couple days ago about brand as Facilitator, as opposed to brand as Broadcaster.  The implications of this distinction are manifold, and I can’t begin to dissect them here, so go to David’s blog if you want to explore.  For now, I want to point to this distinction as a reason to use visual expression in business.

By nature, some of us are broadcasters and others are facilitators.  Translated to a higher level, we are moving currently from an age of broadcasting to an age of facilitating.  This is not to say either can be dispensed with, but one or the other tends to hold sway in any given era.  If a nation is a world power and a champion broadcaster for a couple centuries, over the following few centuries it is likely to morph into a facilitator role as a different nation takes power. 

In the US of A, major change seems imminent, and we wonder what the role of facilitator involves.  So far it seems to manifest in such phenomena as higher fuel costs, an increase in political involvement, and the creeping “free” economy.  It seems we are being challenged to face the music: to account for our immense energy consumption, for our leaders and their mistakes, and for our commercial recklessness.  In business today, it’s necessary to give generously before you can get.

I’m abbreviating here, but it’s time to get to the point.  If facilitation is what’s required for our country and our businesses, consider how it translates to your daily work and communications.  Consider, for example, how to run your meetings as a facilitator rather than as a broadcaster.  If you have any faith in your staff, facilitating their interactions should bring nothing but satisfaction and success.

And if you’re unsure how to facilitate your facilitating, use drawing!  Keeping in mind that you’re using drawing for the benefits inherent in the activity, and not in order to produce a pretty picture, approach issue discussions in meetings by asking staff to draw, individually, in small groups, or as a whole group.  Practice using the language of drawing in place of the spoken word, at least for short periods of time.  Get a roll of newsprint and tape long pieces of it on the wall, and put a hefty supply of markers within reach. 

As manager or group leader, you’ll want to absorb and analyze the drawings that are produced, and as a group you will draw conclusions from the activity.  There’s no need, however, to save these creations.  Make a few mental or written notes, be sure the group senses they have made progress, and then move on.  After a month’s worth of meetings that include drawing, notice your group’s morale and energy levels as they enter the conference area.  Because you have opened for them the doors of perception through visual communications, it’s very likely that the pervading mood will elevate and a can-do attitude will prevail.

Marks on paper

See, the thing about drawing is that since we have so totally neglected it, when we put it to even the most tentative use now, we open floodgates.   On a very hot summer day, if you jump into a pool the shock of the coolness jettisons your awareness to another dimension.  Drawing can be like that. 

Very often when we seem to have issues they are actually not issues at all but limitations in our awareness.  New technologies prove that by imagining aides to everyday work – things that simply remove limitations – we can and do create them.  The same applies to lifestyles, beliefs, goals and concepts as well.  If any of these seem disjointed, out of whack, not-quite-perfect in whatever way, consider whether refreshing your awareness is what is required. 

Something’s wrong, hard to put your finger on it; or maybe it’s easy to name the problem but you’re stumped on its solution.  Rather than pronouncing the situation impossible, the factors unworkable, and the frustration of it all more than should be asked of an honest human being; rather than leaping to the conclusion that you’re being dealt with unfairly, take a small step back and sit down with a clean (or not-so-clean) piece of paper and writing tool, (pencil or pen or lipstick if necessary) and without forethought apply the writing tool to the paper and let it move.

Here’s a hypothetical example:  you have an appointment with a potential buyer whose interest in your product is lukewarm.  You wonder how to present your company in a way that will make this buyer take notice.  In addition to all the usual preparations (research them, prep irresistable informational materials, etc.) you also take five minutes to draw, to put your thinking in visual terms, to move your consciousness to a higher vantage point so you have more awareness at your disposal.

What do you draw in those five minutes?  The range of possibilities is infinite.  Perhaps you scribble aimlessly, just following the whims of intuition while thinking about your upcoming appointment.  The result will reveal where your concerns lie.  Or maybe you make a picture (and remember, this is not art!) of your potential buyer, and this will reveal your assumptions (which may or may not be true).  Or possibly you diagram the relationship between you and the customer, and include present and future schematics.  Looking at this product of your five-minute drill will most likely send you back to the drawing board with several brand new ideas.

It doesn’t matter what you draw.  I repeat, it doesn’t matter one iota what you draw.  The miracle is in the drawing.  The discovery is in making one mark, which leads to another, and another.  That’s all, but it’s enough to leverage your awareness to new levels of power and inspiration.

Please draw

Are all you business leaders, managers, and salespeople out there aware of Dan Roam’s new book, The Back of the Napkin?  I listened to a panel discussion with this author and several others, though I’ve not yet read the book.  Today, I’m suggesting that anyone involved in commerce who could use a new approach should pick this one up.

The nugget of brilliance at the heart of Roam’s manifesto is that we are visual beings and that we respond with unprecendented engagement to pictures.   If this seems an obvious notion, why is it that our adult world traffics so little in pictorial communications?  We may surround ourselves with visuals, pictures on the wall, cool screensavers, movies.  But we seldom if ever use our human capability to draw. 

It’s one of my main rags in life, that we so rarely cultivate our natural gifts: our abilities to move, and sing, and draw.  So it’s truly heartening when the urgings of so many creativity experts are ratified in the business world through vehicles like Roam’s book.  Future civilizations will look back at this time as one when humanity at last began to realize its full potential.  The progress made possible by the wheel’s invention is minor compared to the evolution we will achieve through full use of our natural capabilities.

Roam’s idea, in a way, is a simplification of the mind map; it’s not a new concept, but it’s presented in a nicely accessible form through the book.  Would you like your business challenges to be a little easier to handle, your relations a little deeper and more fun, your communications more clear, your progress more obvious?  A great place to start is with your own visualizing; just pick up a pen and start making marks.