Move and make.

Greg Storey
Same Page
Published in
2 min readNov 28, 2023

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One of the design leaders I am currently coaching has a habit of continually pulling on threads when they are long past the point of needing to diverge and learn more. They have more than enough ideas and information — too much in fact — that they’re drowning in a sea of data and synthesis and options. Whiteboards and documents filled with more information than anyone has the time and patience to review. As we moved through our session it was clear they were unintentionally blocking their progress. Having gone past the point where they had difficulty in knowing what to do next.

Sound familiar? It took me a while to learn that we can only absorb too much information before we need to get it out of our head. And to do so in a way that engages a different part of our brain. Especially in a way that’s different from our digital routines.

When I asked them what they planned to do next of course their response was to add new thoughts to a project whiteboard. I cut them off. Shaking my head sideways with a smile on my face, I said, “Nope. You’re done.”

“No more working online,” I continued, “it’s time for you to make something and get all the things out of your head and onto paper.” I gave them an assignment to draw out stories related to the work they’re trying to complete. “Show me, don’t tell me” is an incredibly effective prompt because it’s so useful to get people out of their silos — out of their funk — thinking and doing in a different way that often leads to an accomplishment and a sense of breakthrough and forward movement.

A few hours after our session I received a text with a few photos of drawings from the design leader. “[It’s] out of my head and onto paper!,” they wrote, “The sketching helped me think.” And that’s exactly what making does, it makes us think of our ideas and problems in a different way that gets us moving in a direction. Whether or not it’s the right direction requires more data, and validation by users, stakeholders, or peers, but now we have something to show instead of tell which always produces more reliable feedback.

As we head into the busy holiday season capped by the end of the year, it’s important that we try to prioritize time to make—I’m writing this post as much for myself as anyone else it might inspire. Create space and time to give our brains a different way to process what’s in there and get it out on paper, clay, canvas, whiteboard, etc. It’s timeless advice that is easily forgotten as the stress compounds and we’re feeling too buried to do anything different.

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Greg Storey
Same Page

Constant Observer. Occasional Writer. Operations Chief. People Coach. Design Enthusiast. Type Collector.