Work in Japan Advice Board
Do you doodle? This is the question asked by Sunni Brown, co-author with Dave Gray and James Macanufo of the book Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers. It may be one of the most important questions you can ask for the future of your ability to think, imagine, and solve problems.
Doodling has gotten a bad rap in traditional education, being associated with daydreaming and idle behavior, the student who can’t pay attention. This is despite the fact that doodling has been an integral part of the note taking habits of artists and inventors from Leonardo da Vinci to Thomas Edison, and U.S. Presidents from John F. Kennedy to Ronald Reagan. Doodling not only facilitates the creative solving process, but it helps focus the mind, and improves memory through visual association.
Because doodling is playful, it tends to be rejected by people who are in power, but unsure of their authority. It may even suffer second class citizenship in the arts, because of its lack of refined skill and technique. Anyone can doodle, but few do doodle.
Doodling is like conversation, it thrives on attention. Chances are if you don’t doodle every day, you don’t doodle at all. This is why many adults hesitate when asked to draw a quick sketch. Children doodle constantly, and don’t require any coaxing. So what happened to the child who stopped doodling on the way to growing up? How can we revive this lost art, and what benefits can we look forward to if we do?
Sunni Brown’s website at http://sunnibrown.com/doodlerevolution will introduce you to what she has called The Doodle Revolution, also the name of her upcoming book to be published in 2012. According to Sunni Brown, doodling improves our ability to focus, increases recall and retention of information, activates our “mind’s eye,” enhances creative problem solving ability, and integrates learning through visual, auditory, and kinesthetic channels.
Psychologists have studied the picture superiority effect, linking it to as much as 90% recall of information compared to 10% recall for reading alone. Confucius said, “I hear, I know. I see, I remember. I do, I understand.” Perhaps to this you could add, “I doodle and I get all three!”
In recent years there has been a surge in books published about the importance and use of graphics and visual design for meetings and presentations, creative thinking, drawing, and information design, as well as books on visual perception and the brain, visual storytelling, and persuasion. These reflect both new findings in the science of communication, as well as the popular hunger for information in visual form.
The word doodle is defined as aimless or idle scribbling, and as a noun once meant a foolish or silly person. Unprofessional, inappropriate, childish? Quite the contrary. Instead of asking people to use their brain, perhaps we should ask them first to doodle for their noodle. It is not only more fun, it has proven to be more effective. Sunni Brown is leading the charge, and is now a featured TED 2011 speaker, an accolade for credibility.
The fact that so much attention has been devoted to this subject indicates that there is far more to it than idle scribbling. If you want to improve, the key to mastery is in the word itself. Doodling is something that you do.
All you need to get started is a notebook and a good writing pen. Start recording your observations and experiences in doodle form, and make it a daily habit. Feel free to add key words and phrases, even dialog to help make sense of it. Just as a lightning rod attracts lightning, you will find that your pen acts as an enlightening rod, attracting ideas as if pulling them out of the air.
You can learn a lot by seeing how others doodle it. Share your doodles with others, and be bold about doodling in public. It is particularly important to let children see that doodling is something that adults enjoy as well. Otherwise they may decide along the way as so many have, that doodling is just for kids.
If you still need convincing, watch Steven Johnson’s amazing illustrated talk on RSA Animate, Where Do Good Ideas Come From? http://budurl.com/lkj3
You may even begin to feel that not doodling is in fact the bigger waste of time. It is high time that doodling gets its due.
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William Reed is a renowned author-speaker who coaches physical finesse and flexible focus for a creative career path. A certified Master Trainer in Guerrilla Marketing and 7th-dan in Aikido, he combines practical wisdom of East and West to help you learn personal branding at the Entrepreneurs Creative Edge.