Happiness Is...

It's A Draw

Your kindergarten teacher was right.

By Heather Page

Along with writing business plans and creating marketing materials, here's a skill they probably didn't teach you in business school: drawing. Yes, the ability to put pen and ink to paper to create a picture isn't just for artistic purposes, experts insist. Rather, when integrated into brainstorming and strategic planning sessions or used as a problem-solving method, drawing can be a powerful business tool.

"Drawing is a great way to gather everybody's ideas and present them in a new way," explains Milly R. Sonneman, author of Beyond Words: A Guide to Drawing Out Ideas (Ten Speed Press) and president of Hands On Graphics Inc., a graphic communication and training company in Mill Valley, California.

Sonneman, whose client list includes several Fortune 500 national and international companies, advises beginning artists to start small by, say, drawing posters displaying one simple idea such as a business meeting's purpose or creating lists with graphical elements representing each point in a discussion. More advanced would-be Picassos can cluster groups of related ideas, turn topics into detailed grids for easy analysis, and use "mindmapping" to diagram the steps of a process and track a project's progress.

If you're not the Pictionary type and cringe at the thought of drawing in front of large groups, keep in mind there are simple techniques and common symbols you can use as a beginner. Then, with practice, you'll probably start focusing less on your drawing and more on what's being said and even developing personalized images, Sonneman says.

Using this technique, you may find people will speak up and interact more during business meetings because drawing facilitates a dialogue. It may also prove useful when implementing ideas. "When pictures are combined with words, people are able to integrate and remember the information better," says Sonneman.

So what are you waiting for? Break out the magic markers and start scribbling.

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This article was originally published in the January 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Happiness Is....

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