One Squiggly Line Blog

Hand-drawn pictures can make things clear, simple, and fun in blogs, too!

Creativity: We All Have It — Reignite Yours!

Think back to when you were a kid. Do you remember your personality? Do you remember any quirks you had?
 

And if you can’t remember that far back, think about the little kids you know, whether family, friends, or even strangers.
 

They all have one thing in common - they’re at the the most creative stage in their life.
 

Children are at a stage where they haven’t been conditioned to many routines and norms. They are completely themselves - unfiltered and raw.
 

...Always asking why

...Not caring too much of what others think about their appearance or their actions

...Saying whatever comes to mind

...Not holding back any ounce of laughter
 


As we grow older, eventually we don’t question as much
 

Eventually the routines of life become mainstream
 

Eventually our imagination grows stale
 

We hold back our laughter more and more
 

And eventually we lose the perspective of what could be in exchange for what is

Creativity gets taught out of us


Our teachers telling us to write in 12 pt. Arial font.


Our parents not having enough patience to answer all of our why’s.
 

Our own inflicted judgements
 

We become afraid of failure. Of messing up. Of saying the wrong thing. Of being judged.
 

To the point where we’ve lost ourselves in exchange for a mask that society has handed us.

We have unlearned creativity.

We all have the ability to be creative, but it's our job to learn it again.

Visual thinking is a great way to jumpstart your creativity, whether personally or professionally, alone or with a group. Simply watching someone else create something can inspire creative thinking and actions. Contact me to bring the power of visuals to your next event, meeting, or project and reclaim your creativity!

Visual Thinking: Get it! Grab it! Go for it!

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While visual thinking makes things simple, it certainly does not dumb them down. Part of the simplicity comes from removing unnecessary parts, leaving behind only what you need to work with. That allows you to really see exactly what it is you do have to work with. This often leads to that, "Oh, now I get it!" moment when everything finally seems to fall into place and make sense.

Once you can see things more clearly, you are able to make better decisions. Sometimes, things become so obvious it doesn't even really feel like you're making a decision at all. The right choice just jumps right at you. Or if you do need to think about it for a minute, it's much easier for you to grab it and run with it.

Check out One Squiggly Line's About Visual Thinking page to learn more.
 

Visual Thinking & Creativity: Use something in a new way

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There's a myth out there that highly creative people just sit around and wait for inspiration to strike. Like a great big lightening bolt from the sky. Or a soft whisper from a mystical muse.
Truth is, creativity is not quite so passive. It is an active process. And there's a science to it, not just an art. There are even formulas, methods, and procedures for generating ideas and, equally importantly, evaluating them. One way to get a new idea or find a creative solution is to use something in a new way.

Sometimes, I take stacks of business cards with me, like if I'm working at a conference or event. Regular rubber bands seemed to rip several of the cards, which meant I had fewer to give out. So, I looked around and found something different to hold my business cards together — stretchy ribbon hair ties. Not only do they hold my business cards together, they look better, too!

When it comes to creativity, the best ideas can be inside the box, not outside of it. You just need to use them in a new way.

Visual Thinking & Visual Notes: Live Graphic Recording

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 Hand-drawn visuals are far friendlier than standardized fonts and stock photos. And hand-drawn visuals are even more inviting when created live, right there where everyone can see.
The drawing above was created during the opening remarks at the Women in Cyber Security conference the end of March. It was then displayed near registration to welcome late-comers. Not a high resolution file shown here, just taken with my iPhone in the moment.

To see the whole set of visual notes from the Women in Cyber Security conference, check out this Flickr album.

Visual Thinking & Creativity: Timelines

Pictures are obviously a big part of visual thinking. So are words. But if you just throw a bunch of words and pictures on a page, you just end up with a mess. A visual mess that makes your thinking messy, too.
That's where organization comes in. It's the third essential component of successful visuals. It doesn't have to be fancy. In fact, it's often best to keep things really simple.

A timeline is a simple and effective way to visually organize information.The image above shows a simple timeline of the International Center for Studies in Creativity, where I got my master's degree. Of course there's a whole lot more to their story than shown in this timeline, but it includes the things that influenced or impacted me in some way. You get the idea, at a glance.

Check out One Squiggly Line's About Visual Thinking page to learn more.

Visual Thinking & Visual Notes: Live Graphic Recording at Events

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There's never just one way to create visual notes, especially when they are created live. And at a large scale. That can make capturing a panel talk more of a challenge for some people. It takes a bit more flexibility than a clearly defined presentation.

I tend to capture panel discussions in a way that highlights the key points of the discussion as a whole. Not a series of summaries of what each person contributed. Since discussions tend to be rather fluid, the final visual makes much more sense that way. Speakers tend to like it better that way, too. So often key points build on what another speaker said, so there's no chance of misattribution when you capture the discussion as a whole.

The visual notes above were created during a panel discussion at TechInclusion last fall. You can see the whole set of visual notes created live, on-site there in this Flickr album

Visual Thinking & Creativity: Idea Boxes

There's a myth out there that highly creative people just sit around and wait for inspiration to strike. Like a great big lightening bolt from the sky. Or a soft whisper from a mystical muse.

Truth is, creativity is not quite so passive. It is an active process. And there's a science to it, not just an art. There are even formulas, methods, and procedures for generating ideas and, equally importantly, evaluating them.

One classic way to create something new is to combine things. And a great way to do that is with an idea box. It's really easy to do - the image above shows one I used with kindergarten through jr. highers. 

First, write out the parts of your project, problem or whatever you're thinking about. Next, make a list of thing that fall into each of those categories (random is good here!). Then, chose something from each list and put them all together. If you don't like what you end up with, reach back into your idea box until you find something you do like!


 

Visual Thinking & Meetings: Why ARE We Here?

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Why bother to have a meeting if nobody knows why they're there? And they're still wondering what that meeting was all about after they left? Sometimes, all it takes is a simple visual to make things crystal clear. Visuals can remind those in charge to state the objectives and make sure everyone understands them before work begins. Visuals can also remind people to ask questions when things aren't so clear. And if someone's mind wanders, just looking at that visual will bring them right back into your content.

 

Visual Thinking & Graphic Recording: Is Bigger Better?

Part of the power of graphic recording is that it is done live and at a large scale. The most common size is eight feel long by four feet high. Even when given the dimensions, most folks don't realize how large that is. A Smart car is about nine feet long by five feet wide - roughly a foot less in length and width than the average graphic recording surface!

Obviously, working at a scale that large is not the best option for a small meeting space. But just because the event venue is humongous doesn't meant a ginormous board is the best option. There may not be enough space to display those great big visuals for people to discuss later. And that's where a lot of the magic happens!

The image above was created on foamcore board roughly the size of flip chart paper.  It's large enough for a small group to look at and discuss. Yet small enough to be easy to carry and display afterwards.  

Visual Thinking: Tracking Progress

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Setting goals is one thing. Reaching them is quite another!

You're much more likely to reach your goals when you track your progress. Doing that visually helps you see the big picture at a glance. It also keeps your goals in the front of your mind so you're less likely to forget about them.

That's what performance dashboards are for. They're like the dashboard in your car in the way you can see at a glance how things are going. But they're for tracking progress towards your goal, instead.

Here's a performance dashboard I created to help me track how often I stretch throughout the day. All I have to do is put a dot by the time of day when I stretched. At a glance, I can see if I've been remembering to stretch or not.

A performance dashboard like this is super simple, yet so much more specific than just saying, "I need to be sure to stretch throughout the day."