What does doodling have to do with leadership?

My father was a doodler.  In the home where he grew up, I saw his doodles and cartoons etched in ink on the surfaces of his childhood desk and dresser.    After hours, in the fancy French restaurant he owned, he huddled in conversation with his favorite dinner guests and doodled, not only on the back of a napkin, but on the white linen tablecloths!  He doodled caricatures of local politicians, design plans to improve the restaurant, landscapes from his memory, the next week’s menu and recipes, his retirement projects, you name it!!    He was doodling long before Dan Roam could hold a pencil.  (No offense Dan.  I have all your books!)
Doodling and drawing to explain what we mean is as old as the cave paintings of our ancestors.
In 2012 we are experiencing a doodling renaissance.  Even the Wall Street Journal is talking about doodling. (See Doodling for Dollars) So what’s the big deal?  Why should leaders care about doodling?  Here are five reasons to start doodling:

  1. Brain Power Multiplied:  The combination of drawing and words (which are also graphic images) integrates the right and left hemispheres of our brains for increased vision and clarity in thinking.  It’s Vision + Details.  It’s the why + the how.
  2. Engagement:  Doodles, colors, funky print and stick figures make us smile!  They engage us in a way that volumes of text in reports and memos don’t.  We have important work to do and tough decision to make.  Let’s stay awake for them!
  3. Making complexity visible:  Einstein is often quoted these days:  “We cannot solve the problems of the world with the same thinking we used when we created them.”  Pictures, story boards, graphics invite us to think differently about complex problems.  They invite imagination and innovation. 
  4. You already know how to draw (yes, you do!):  Notice what your hands are doing when you are explaining something verbally.  They wave around.  You make circles and lines and arrows in the air.  Why invent a new communication widget when we already embody communication in our movements?
  5. Whoever tells the best story gets the worm!  When decision makers understand your compelling reasons for more money, resources, time, they will say yes.  “Whoever best describes the problem is the most likely to solve it and the most likely to get funding to solve it,” said Dan Roam, in his key note, at the most recent Non Profit Technology  (NTEN) conference.

To sum it up, doodling helps leaders work smarter, capture attention, bring clarity, use their natural abilities, and get the funding. What are we waiting for?
If you’re interested in a doodling consultation, give me a call. I can have you up and sketching in no time.