February 19, 2019

Make a Picture

  —Don't get hung up on formality in diagrams.

I’ve written about Ruth Malan’s work elsewhere. I recently come across a tweet she shared:


“making a picture is itself transformational:

  1. [..]focused on common goals rather than the things that divide them
  2. a co-created picture combines goals, roles and an agreed path [..] literally gets everyone on the same page
  3. [..]is a litmus test for feasibility”

– @davegray

View on Twitter

Coincidently, I was able to experience this recently with my team. I’d been pushing for more design and facing resistance. On one occasion, I forced a design activity when some team members deemed it unnecessary.

To the team’s credit, they created the diagrams, reviewed them and discovered the requirement could be achieved in a simpler way. Nah, it was deemed unnecessary.

I can’t emphasize enough how the simple act of drawing a picture is transformational.

Interestingly, some team members expressed concern about the quality of the diagram. I’ll emphasize that a photograph of a whiteboard drawing is more than sufficient to achieve understanding.

People are sometimes afraid to express themselves using drawings because of expectations they place on themselves. If your team has trouble putting pen to paper consider whether unstated expectations on format are holding them back. Focus on understanding instead. It’s more valuable.

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