Scott Matthews and Heidi Harper from Tremendousness, a design agency in St. Louis, led a Learning Lab at ADMERICA centered on drawing and free form thought. They call it Visual Thinking, and it’s a process, which gives collaborators the tools needed to structure and generate ideas. The Learning Lab challenged attendees to talk to each other, use their drawing skills to generate ideas, and get involved in the creative ideation process.
Is there a better location to have this Learning Lab than at Disneyland? I think not. Walt Disney proved to us that illustration; creativity and imagination have a powerful role when crafting animated stories. As Heidi stated to the attendees, “The Visual Thinking approach leads to better ideas; better collaboration and visuals communicate ideas faster than using words alone.” It’s a formulated process of taking what’s in your head, quickly putting it on paper, on the wall, so that others can see it and feed off those ideas.
Think, draw, and participate is the Tremendousness Visual Thinking mantra, but they stress this exercise is not an art contest. Knowing how to draw is not a pre-requisite to effectively use Visual Thinking. Stick figures and basic shape cartoons are just fine to convey your idea, so anybody can do it from account to client to creative.
It’s all about generating ideas rapidly for all to see, and allowing teams to propel those ideas forward collaboratively to a solution.
The Visual Thinking process is broken up into three parts: The Ice Breaker, Empathy Mapping, and Ideation Exercise. The Icebreaker involves folded index cards. One side attendees drew your name, the other they drew their superpower. (My superpower would be the complete control over garbage. I mean really? Think about it, just the power to control landfills and all that methane gas alone is worth it to smite the villians) This first step is a nice way to get individuals in your meeting talking and lightening the mood for a more productive session.
I particularly liked the step of Empathy Mapping. The goal was to gain a deeper understanding of your target audiences, as well as generate insights to frame the rest on the conversation. Who are they and what do they want? Are they Millennials? Baby boomers? Business professionals? Empathy Mapping provides you the opportunity to think about your audiences, what concerns them and what’s going to get them to impact their behavior. Using the Tremendousness quadrant circle diagram attendees at ADMERICA drew the face of their target market. With Post-it notes they filled out the chart by giving them personalities, what are they thinking (top), seeing (right), hearing (left) and doing (bottom)?
The Ideation Exercise focuses on the product or service by getting collaborators to focus on the product attributes or the service benefits. How are they different, and who should fear them (read: competitors).
Visual thinking. A process, which gives collaborators the tools needed to structure and generate ideas, challenged attendees to talk to each other, use their drawing skills to generate ideas, and get involved. By the end of the Learning Lab attendees were talking, interacting and drawing, and as a result the room was loud, vibrant and buzzing with chatter.
Walt would be proud.
About the Author
Joe currently serves on the NA3 committee for the AAF and is a former AAF club president of the Rochester Advertising Federation from District 2. He’s co-owner and Creative Director at Brandtatorship, a boutique advertising agency in Western New York that specializes in forging ideas that help companies take charge of their brand. Read more.