Love and Learn
Published in

Love and Learn

Drawing to think

I have a superpower. I make complex things simple.

Some people read. Some people write.

I doodle, sketch, draw. Whatever is in my head. Out it comes onto the paper.

Why is this a superpower you ask?

You see, we can know more than we can tell.

We know more than we have the words for.

When we explore what is in our our minds by drawing rather than by writing or talking, we discover more relevant information, uncover greater connections and can synthesise into meaning faster.

We know more than we can tell. We know more than the words we have.

Sketch before you research!

The way we have been taught to solve problems was to do research before coming up with the solution. But it was mostly external type of research — books, internet, interviews. All out there.

Yet we actually need to build our own architecture of thinking for how the things out there connect to the problem or issue that we are grappling with. The best place to start is with your own experience of that issue.

Drawing helps us connect directly to our experiences and make sense of them. And we need to learn how to access this pre-verbal part of our selves in order to work with ambiguous and complex issues.

Sketch from inside out!

I sketch before I start to work with a problem.

I sketch before I start learning new ideas.

I sketch what I already know about the space I am exploring.

Quick exploration of an idea for an app. Mapping out your thoughts visually makes it easier to spot connections.

I recommend that the first step you take when faced with an ambiguous space is to just take a piece of paper and a pencil, and sketch what comes up for you. Get in touch with your inner view and voice on the matter.

Start with a blank piece of paper, write the question in the middle of it, and start drawing lines that lead to other thoughts, emotions, pictures and symbols that come up for you.

Don’t stop and judge your sketches, just keep on externalising your inner view onto paper.

Sketch to improve your thinking.

This habit has expanded my thinking toolkit. I have developed new ways to tackle complex problems. I have started trusting my whole mind to carry me forward through ambiguity.

Da Vinci did it, Einstein did it. I don’t understand why we don’t teach this basic skill in schools.

Visualisation of your thoughts will help you access your voice. It will also make your communication clearer and sharper.

One of the best ways to build confidence in the complex world is by learning to access your inner world and visualise it, before reaching to answers out there.

Drawing is actually a thinking process, it’s not just for expressing some final ideas.

I recommend that you try it too.

With thanks to Amy Materka for editing help.

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Wojtek Materka

Wojtek Materka

I help leaders develop and thrive in face of complex problems | Management prof @insead | Co-Founder Sapling Leadership Studio | [http://www.materka.me]