idea doodle

Doodle your way to a creative answer

Your problem solving toolkit is at the tip of your pencil

We’ve all had days, weeks (months even) where we’ve been working on a project or task and keep hitting the same mental block.  Whether it’s forgetting key decisions from the last meeting, trying to pin down that brilliant topic for the seminar next week, or drafting copy for your next newsletter, it’s overwhelming when we can’t seem to get past the brick wall in front of us.

I’ve been reading “Unfolding the Napkin,” by Dan Roam, author of “The Back of the Napkin,” and he begins by pointing out how any problem can be solved with simple pictures. One of the many statistics I found fascinating is that 75% of the neurons of our brains are visually centered. That means doodles, sketches and pictures can be powerful explainers, whether marketing your idea, showing relationships between objects, mapping a process or planning your next trip.

To really show what that percentage means, he provided a napkin picture.

The Back of the Napkin sensory napkin sketch

A surprising and powerful visual, isn’t it?  Roam demonstrates that by using these simple pictures, we can express our thoughts, share ideas, and ultimately end up with one, unified goal.

One of my favorite methods he explores that helps me get passed the creative block and get me started is the SQVID.  The SQVID is a mnemonic device for five questions that can give your imagination the jumpstart it may need.  It’s a creative take on an audio mixing board.  Should your drawing be simple, or elaborate?  Visually appealing or more analytical?  Should it show where we are now, or where we want to be?  I find it helps me fine-tune my concepts to my target audience and stay focused on the project’s goals.

The Back of the Napkin "SQVID"

So if you’re looking for some inspiration or another way to look at the obstacles you’ve come across, “Unfolding the Napkin” may be just what you’re looking for. Roam walks you through all of his tips and tricks to picture problem-solving.  Throughout each chapter, you’ll find space for you to try doodling too, providing you with another tool for your universal problem-solving toolkit that you can mentally equip yourself with anytime you have a problem you need to solve.

Action Item

Challenge yourself to try solving some of your business problems with pictures.  Do you have other creative techniques you use for problem-solving?  We’d love to hear about your problem-solving processes.

Angela Ashbaugh is the Concept Artist/ Animator at Digital Bard in Frederick, MD. While even her doodles look masterful to me, I have tried to embrace the creative power and clarity that can come from my less-than-studied sketches. So can you. – Whitney

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