Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Doodling your way to success?

Back in high school history class, I had a friend who had a unique way of taking notes.

Rather than write down in words the salient points made by the teacher, Joe would sketch the images those words formed in his head.

His notebook was filled with illustrations of famous people voicing famous quotes or famous warriors doing battle with famous opponents. It was his way of having the information resonate more vibrantly and, therefore, more concretely for a longer lasting impact.

Turns out Joe may have been on to something that in current times the business world has discovered as a means of explaining complicated ideas. And to "help generate ideas, fuel collaboration and simplify communication."

Welcome to the Summer Solstice edition of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips from JDK Marketing Communications Management.

Most of you know that, in addition to copy writing in the marketing "game," I also comprise my professional time as a caricature artist. Happily, my ability to draw has served me well when brainstorming rough ideas on the proverbial napkin over coffee with a client, prospect or colleague.

I recently came across this online article in the Wall Street Journal that appealed not only to my creative bent, but my artistic capabilities.

In "Doodling for Dollars," author Rachel Silverman writes," Put down that smart phone; pick up that crayon," as firms are trying to get their "gadget-obsessed workers to look up...and sketch ideas.

"Doodling proponents say it can help generate ideas, fuel collaboration and simplify communication. It can be especially helpful among global colleagues who don't share a common first language. Putting pen to paper also is seen as an antidote to the pervasiveness of digital culture, getting workers to look up from their devices. And studies show it can help workers retain more information.

"Even with advanced gadgets such as smart phones and tablets, 'the hand is the easiest way to get something down,' says Everett Katigbak, a communication designer at Facebook. Most of the walls at the company's offices around the country have been coated with dry-erase or chalkboard paint or a treatment for glass to allow employees to sketch ideas whenever they arise. The company's offices are filled with jottings, from mathematical equations to doodles of cats and dollar signs.

"A 2009 study published in the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology found that doodlers retained more than non-doodlers when remembering information that had been presented in a boring context, such as a meeting or conference call. The logic, according to Jackie Andrade, a psychology professor at the University of Plymouth in England, is that doodling takes up just enough cognitive energy to prevent the mind from daydreaming.

"HomeAway, an Austin, Texas, vacation-rental company, hired a graphic facilitator to help train a dozen employees—including senior managers and training and human-resources staff—to use visual shorthand and sketching to help guide meetings, says Lori Knowlton, the company's vice president of human resources. The aim was to better 'capture ideas using images,' she says. Plus, it is more fun than 'being surrounded by spreadsheets and emails.'

"The company also brought in graphic recorder Sunni Brown to help sketch, in real time, what was discussed at a large company meeting on HomeAway's strategy. The resulting cartoonlike image, which serves as the meeting's minutes, hangs framed at the company's headquarters."


So, does it pay to doodle? Draw your own conclusions.

(I couldn't resist.)

See you again the first Tuesday of next month for another broad brush stroke of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips.

Joel Kweskin

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