Sketch note #2 – Tim Brown: Creativity & Play

*click on image to enlarge*

For this Sketch Note I decided to explore with more visuals and colors. I really like how it came out, but it also helped to have an interesting topic that provided a lot of great visuals and metaphors. Feel free to follow along with the video below.


First Sketchnote – IDEO’s Tim Brown ‘A Call for Design Thinking’ via TEDTalks

Over the last few months I had two work projects to complete that involved Visual Thinking. While I love the concept of Visual Thinking – the creation of a succinct picture or road map out of something complex – the actual process was still foreign to me. I actually think visually, and work best when I’m hands on, but I’ve never actually combined the two together. This ties back in with my last post on ‘Re-Discovering Creativity‘ with how our education systems mold us to think and interpret information in a specific way.

The only way to get better at something is by doing – so I decided to jump in head first and take a shot at sketchnoting. I decided to go with Tim Brown ‘A Call for Design Thinking’ TEDTalk since Design Thinking is a topic I’m passionate about and have been researching for the past year. I figured the familiarization with the topic would make it easier to sketch out concepts or thoughts as they came to me.

Follow the Sketchnote along with the video.

Thought Process

The process I used was fairly straight forward. I put the title in top/middle of the page before I started the video, and then started my sketching in the top left corner. I wanted to try to keep it as visual as I could, but I realized that keywords would jump out at me, so I jotted those down as they came along. I also wanted to keep the right side open for any other topic that might spin off – which worked out well since Tim went into discussing Roger Martin’s Integrative Thinking process (side note: I really like Martin’s ‘Knowledge Funnel‘ process – simple to understand and it does a great job of explaining why we love simplicity).

Here is the finalized version of the note. I used Pilot G-2 07 pen’s in green, black, red and blue, on copy paper. I’ve noticed that some sketchnotes have too many pictures that you have no idea what is going on – while others just have a bunch of fancy fonts crammed in on a page. I wanted to meld the two a bit, while keeping a good amount of white space so it wasn’t too cluttered. I would have liked to have had some better visuals, but nothing was really jumping out at me. Hopefully I can work on that more over time.

If you’re interested in learning more about Tim Brown – check out his company IDEO, where he is CEO and president.

Re-Discovering Creativity: A Journey In Visual Thinking & Sketchnoting

I’ve always found myself going up to dry erase boards and hashing out ideas. This usually meant boxes, arrows and simple digrams trying to tie together concepts or brain storms. Recently I had a project to complete that needed to express a lot of idea’s visually, but I felt I was running into a creative block. That’s when I came across this great TED talk by Ken Robinson on ‘schools kill creativity’.

The two big take aways I had from the presentation were:

  1. To be creative, you need to be prepared to be wrong. Unfortunately we become frightened out of being wrong through education – where making a mistake is the worst thing that you can do.
  2. We think in abstract terms and best learn things through interaction.

We are very visual learners, even more so when we can interact with a diagram to create a deeper understanding of a concept. Ken Robinson defines creativity as “the process of having original ideas that have value — more often than not comes about through the interaction of different disciplinary ways of seeing things.”  According to Dan Roam, around  3/4 of the neurons in our brain are used to visually process information. If we are able to take concepts to the next level, we can sum up complicated idea’s and information with a few pictures that are more easy to understand.

I picked up Dan Roam’s ‘Back of the Napkin‘ book in the summer and it’s a great primer on Visual Thinking and back of the napkin sketches (hence the title). However, if you’re interested in learning how to problem solve visually, I suggest his second book ‘Unfolding the Napkin‘ since it contains sample problems to try out.

As I researched Visual Thinking more, I came upon the concept of Visual Notetaking and Sketchnoting. Nifty at notebookstories had a great definition of what they are: “In the long list of tools one could use for visual thinking, sketchnotes are one of the most exciting. Simply put, sketchnotes are visual notes that are drawn in real time. Through the use of images, text, and diagrams, these notes take advantage of the “visual thinker” mind’s penchant for make sense of—and understanding—information with pictures.”

Sketchnotes of Mike Rohde's Sketchnoting presentation

My next posts will contain some sketchnotes and visual thinking processes that I’ve worked on in the past few months. I’ve been hand drawing them so far since I cant seem to find a good android application – but that’s another story! Feel free to chime in if you have any suggestions on what you use for your notes.

Here are a few blogs/sites I recommend you check out for more info: