Exercise: Collaborative Drawing

In May, I attended XP Conference in Porto, Portugal.  One of the sessions that I attended was Visual Engagement by Joao Reis.  He opened with this exercise:

  1. Everyone think of an animal and write it on a post-it.  I wrote down elephant.
  2. On the 11×14 sheet of paper begin drawing your elephant.
  3. Within 10-15 seconds, he said pass the paper to the right and continue drawing.
  4. Another 10-15 seconds, he said pass the paper to the right and continue drawing. This step repeating several times with a twist of pass the paper to the left for one rotation.
  5. Then the exercise ended with a discussion.

The bold black line was my contribution (starting point) of my drawing of the elephant.

Here’s what I debriefed/discovered from this exercise:

  • Without planning (discussion), we collaboratively drew something that if I took the sticky note away – people could guess that this is an elephant.
  • The speed of our switches prevented overanalyzing what to draw, how well we were drawing and going into too much detail.
  • Other people took the drawing in directions that I would not have. Some I appreciated such as the mouse: that would never have occurred to me to include and a nice unexpected yet expected element.  And some that I did not: the legs are driving me bonkers. Yet even in the elements that I didn’t appreciate, there is an easier starting point to iterate on what aspect of the legs need improvement.

This session was about helping people learn to leverage images (and that you can draw). I walked away with a brand new exercise to help people learn the value of collaboration – using imagery which is one of the areas I’m always looking to increase!

How would you leverage this exercise?

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