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Draw together

James Buckhouse
Apr 27, 2013 · 4 min read

Draw the story

When I worked at DreamWorks, every conference room had a pile of blank storyboard pads in the middle of the table. Each conversation or critique started with a drawing and ended with a new drawing—sometimes dozens of drawings—one right on top of the next, drawn and re-drawn by everyone in the room.

Draw to discover

When you first start a new project, get in a room with your partners and start to draw: Draw together and draw at the same time. Trade lines. Finish each other’s circles and squares. Don’t worry about perfection; fluidity, improvisation and coöperation matter more.

If you can draw a circle…

…or a line and a square then you can draw. Don’t believe for a second that only artists can draw: everyone can make a mark and tell you what that mark means. Talk while you draw and it will work.

Draw the problem

When you first sit with someone and draw, try to resist the urge to immediately concoct solutions or UI, instead, draw the human need your product solves.

Next draw the transformed state.

Draw the transformed lives of people whose needs have been met—fulfilled, delighted, courageous people—and articulate the differences. Illustrate everything new about their transformed state.

Replace adequate solutions with ingenious ones.

If you jump too quickly to UI or wireframes or layouts, your own intelligence and experience will find adequate solutions, which might prevent you from a much better solution borne from emotional transformation. Allow yourself the chance to discover.

Draw with everyone

Draw with your teammates and co-conspirators. Draw with people on your own team and draw with people from completely separate teams. Draw with your CEO. Draw with your intern. Draw at lunch with co-workers you’ve never met: Pack pencils and offer them up like cigarettes in Casablanca to start a conversation.

Let’s have a meeting

Next time you run a meeting, skip the donuts* and bring a pack of pencils. Try this workflow:

  1. Start the meeting with an impassioned call to figure out the fundamental human needs your project will solve.
  2. Gather around on the same side of the table and start with any mark, a circle or line or triangle and say something like: “This circle is our potential-user riding home from work on the bus. What does she need?”
  3. Then give your pencil to the person next to you.

Design Story

Complements to the human condition.

Thanks to Josh Brewer

James Buckhouse

Written by

Design Partner at Sequoia & Founder of SequoiaDesignLab.com Ex-Twitter, Ex-Dreamworks. Guest lecturer at Stanford’s GSB & d.school https://linktr.ee/buckhouse

Design Story

Complements to the human condition.

James Buckhouse

Written by

Design Partner at Sequoia & Founder of SequoiaDesignLab.com Ex-Twitter, Ex-Dreamworks. Guest lecturer at Stanford’s GSB & d.school https://linktr.ee/buckhouse

Design Story

Complements to the human condition.

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