8 best reasons why teams who draw are more successful

Photo credit: Green Chameleon via Unsplash

Drawing has been the way to communicate for as long as we know. From cave drawings to walls, vases, pots, you name it. Thus, drawing is not just about making beautiful art that you hang on a wall to look at. Oftentimes it is about explaining ideas and communicating complex information.

And because of this, drawing is equally important part of collaboration and teamwork. Here are 8 best reasons why teams who draw are more successful than teams who don’t.

They don’t waste time explaining complex topics in long chats and email threads

Not every problem or concept is easy to explain using just words. Try explaining the architecture of an app (or a building) via email thread and make sure everyone understands everything. Sounds like a massively long and frustrating email thread, doesn’t it?

Our brain processes visuals 60000 times faster than it does text. So instead of spending hours or days on text-based communication, successful teams jump to a whiteboard or piece of paper and draw their ideas. This isn’t hours long paint work. But the simple child-like sketches do exactly what is needed — enable us to process complex information in the visual forms quickly.

Successful teams don’t waste time explaining complex topics in long chats and email threads. They draw them out in sketches instead.

They keep things simple

During a meeting, there is no time to create fancy masterpieces. It has been common to use Visio and several graphing tools to visually explain the architecture, flowcharts and more. In today’s fast moving world, we question more and more if spending hours on a graph is the best way to be spending our time.

In a lean world, you need to get things done quickly. Having as many processes as needed but not more. Less is more. On most of the whiteboards in offices, you’ll see insane drawings of boxes and arrows. The crazy amount of odd scribbles that makes no sense at a glance. There’s nothing massively beautiful in them. And yet these are drawings worth more than an average painting.

Think about an organisation for example. If you receive a list of a hundred people working in a company, it takes a while to understand the exact structure and connections. But showing the information as simple organisation chart gives us a good overview immediately.

Photo credit: William Iven via Unsplash

Successful teams keep their goals in mind. Your product needs to look beautiful. Your designs need to be fantastic. Doodles for communication need to be fast to create, clear, simple and understandable.

They have sharp collective memory

Studies show that people only remember 10% of what they hear and 20% of what they read, but about 80 percent of what they see and do. The key to the 80% is doing both — seeing and interacting with what you see.

Dr. Arnold Bresky believes that drawing helps us improve memory and grow new brain cells. Their research shows that drawing actually adds synapses to the brain’s transmitters. This means that the memories and experiences reserved in your brain in the process are stronger and more accessible.

In simple words — if I show you 30 slides, you’ll probably remember just one of them. If we work on the visuals together, drawing together, discussing in the process, you’ll remember most of it.

I’ve seen this happening again and again in software development. Whenever engineers draw out architecture designs together, the team understands and knows what needs to happen. Whenever we just show a picture of the final result, only small part is remembered and you need to repeat the process several times.

Successful teams draw and collaborate to have a sharp collective memory.

They are better at focusing and observing

While drawing, our brain focuses on this one task. We can’t read emails and draw at the same time. Drawing as an activity helps us practice deep focus on a task at hand.

“Painting embraces all the ten functions of the eyes, that is to say, darkness, light, body and colour, shape and location, distance and closeness, motion and rest.” — Leonardo da Vinci

When we draw to explain, there is less focus on darkness, body or light. But we focus on connections and flow, shapes, locations, and everything around grasping the bigger picture of a subject. In architecture diagram, it matters less what shade the box is drawn. But it makes a huge difference if it’s a server or database. And which directions the connections go.

They communicate better

Through drawing, we focus on making complex simple. And after a while, this becomes a natural habit in our everyday communication. Thus, people who draw, often try to verbally communicate in couple sentences, instead of twenty. A picture says a thousand words.

They engage different personality types

There are many different personalities around us. Most commonly conversations are around extroverts and introverts. At Skype, we had many cultures and personalities among our teams. Naturally during events and even in meetings, you always hear the extroverts speak out louder. I’ve been experimenting with how can we balance our personality strengths and weaknesses in ways we hear everyone.

We did several experiments by using different tools and channels. When we held regular meetings, extroverts always took over the meeting. When we held small group meetings with whiteboarding, we started to engage more people. Hearing different opinions.

But the real magic happened once we switched to online tools such as chat + drawing. All of a sudden everyone would attend. Not verbally, but by drawing and writing. Every team member has amazing ideas but not everyone is ready to jump up and share it out loud. The online channel gave everyone chance to think things through in their pace and engage and share their ideas in their way.

They use actively full brain power

The right hemisphere of our brain is responsible for creativity and imagination. The left hemisphere is involved in the logical tasks. Now, as you draw, 80% of your right hemisphere gets activated. Thus, when we are drawing, both our hemispheres work simultaneously making it possible to grasp complex problems quickly.

They are more creative and have fun

For many of us, something happens between childhood and becoming an adult that results in a constant “I cannot draw” excuse. We focus so strongly on some stunning example of art and instantly remind ourselves that I cannot do that before we even try. We say there are the “creative” people, just as if something is missing inside ourselves.

The goal of drawing is not just about art. It’s about expressing and explaining. To learn and get better. The more we use the right hemisphere of our brain, the more we train the creativity within ourselves.

Drawing doesn’t mean putting something awesome on the paper or scribbling randomly. You can easily have fun with your co-workers or friends while at it with simple engaging challenges. Pick a logo of your favourite brand and try to redesign it. Found a really bad website? Why not create a design for that. How would you explain to a 6-year-old how the fridge works? And so on. Let your creative ink out and draw your teams together.

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Originally published at www.deekit.com/blog