If there is one thing creatives love, it is a good meeting. You know, the status meeting where everyone goes around the room and makes sure it looks like they have been working harder than the people who have reported before them.
In the distant past, I worked in an organization with a weekly meeting that seemed to be the professional highlight of the week. Twenty-five people would pack into a small room and prep to impress, except for one person. The senior leader would take the meeting agenda, start the meeting, and then begin to doodle. I’m not kidding. Once the meeting started, the leader’s pen would immediately begin to move. At first, I thought notes were being made on the paper, jotting down facts and other important notes of where the organization was going. Nope. Just doodles. Whatever shape or picture popped into mind would hit the page.
To be quite honest, I was actually shocked at the quality of work that could be done in a relatively short meeting. Elaborate trees, well-sculpted figures, unicorns…you name it. More shocking was the fact that this senior leader could remember almost every detail of the meeting while being able to doodle these images. Maybe the drawings were a variation of mind mapping. I am still a bit baffled by that one. But, if you thought you were being ignored while the doodles were being drawn, you were wrong.
I promise there is a point to all of this.
Sometimes, we create without knowing what the end will look like. Just like the doodles on those pages, we begin with a line, and then add a squiggle. We follow with some swirls, and soon a picture begins to form. It wasn’t what we set out to do, but we created something unique along the way. Now, let’s be clear. I don’t doodle in meetings, nor do I recommend it. It is above my pay grade and probably above yours.
But, I do recommend doodling and here are three reasons why:
1. Kick Start Your Brain
Sometimes you need a primer before you work on a project. Whether the task lying before you is design, ideation, or even process development, you need creativity to make it work. Many times, creatives must bring structure to seemingly random elements. That’s where a good doodle might come in handy. If you can bring random shapes and lines into focus, you can tie seemingly disconnected elements together. Your brain just needs a kick-start, something to get the connect-the-dots juices flowing.
2. Truly Innovate
Every once in a while, you need a new idea. An idea no one has ever really thought of before. You need to come up with something ex nihilo, something out of thin air. True innovation isn’t easy. This is where the great inventors of history shine through. Whether it’s Da Vinci’s early drawings of flying machines or Steve Jobs’ iPod, they thought of what people needed yet had never seen before. In this type of creation without end in mind, you start with the question, “What doesn’t exist yet?”. Then you can set out to create, one idea at a time. This may be one of the more focused doodles you will ever attempt, or it could be something you sketch and are surprised by. But in the end, you are seeking innovation in its purest form.
3. Decompress Your Brain
Other times, you simply need to relax. You need to let your brain rest. You don’t need a project to figure out. You don’t need a deadline. You don’t need something to ship. You just need a few minutes to let the intensity flow out of your mind and onto paper. These are great moments to doodle without a desired end. In fact, if you end with a bunch of random shapes on paper no one will be disappointed. Your brain needs the time to allow your subconscious to guide your hands. This is a time to sit back and enjoy a blank page. If you are a charts type of person, maybe you just need to drop some boxes and arrows on the page without any kind of real connection. Either way, don’t focus on an end product, but instead allow yourself to relax and give your brain time to recharge.
So, what about you? Which of these types of doodles will help you this week? When and where will you give it a try? Maybe you already doodle, so how has it helped you?