Team Drawing to Generate Solutions to Problems
21 November 2019

Sketching – problem solving – creative thinking

Team problem solving often involves sitting in a room, discussing the issue to try and develop solutions.

Drawing and doodling can help creative thinking, so why not try a different approach by asking your team to sketch out their ideas in visual form instead. No artistic talent? No matter. It might even be a good thing! Studies have shown that a misinterpreted drawing can lead to new ideas.

Why is drawing helpful in problem solving? There are several reasons. Firstly, it’s often difficult for people to put spatial relationships into words, so any solution that requires a spatial layout is better described with pictures than with words.

Another reason is that much of the brain is devoted to visual processing, so sketching and interpreting drawings involves those brain regions in idea generation.

Finally, diagrams are helpful because it is often difficult to describe processes purely in words.

So how do you get started?

Explain the problem or situation out loud. Then draw the problem. Don’t overthink it – just draw. How you draw it is up to you. Create several drawings instead of perfecting one single drawing. The point is to draw the problem or situation in as many ways as possible. If you’re working in a group, go around the room and share your thoughts to encourage shorter drawing time than longer. Use other people’s thoughts as inspiration for your own.

Sketch the problem from unusual viewpoints. For example:

  • from someone else’s view, such as the end user, a consumer, an expert, or a child;
  • from a different angle- say 30,000 feet above the earth, from the floor up, upside down or inside out;
  • in a different time - a few days later or ten years in the future;
  • represented as a person or as something non-human: a thing, event, shape, pattern or emotion;
  • as a cartoon with panels or storyboards.

Continue until you have lots of images. You might collect them together, posting them on the wall. Group them together in themes or concepts. Keep an extra page handy to write down ideas.

Research shows that generating problem-solving ideas through drawing helps you to stay engaged, communicate more effectively, and understand complex concepts better. In consequence it expands the scope of your team’s thinking.

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Although every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this blog, nothing herein should be construed as giving advice and no responsibility will be taken for inaccuracies or errors.

Copyright © 2023 all rights reserved. You may copy or distribute this blog as long as this copyright notice and full information about contacting the author are attached. The author is Kate Russell of Russell HR Consulting Ltd.