At first glance, Sunni Brown’s fascinating work, The Doodle Revolution, seems to be all fun and games, from its sunny yellow cover, square shape reminiscent of children’s books and playful writing style. After all, who really takes doodling seriously? Well, Brown, for one. Behind the whimsy lies a thoroughly researched and remarkably detailed treatise on combining verbal and visual communications to unlock innovation, share ideas and think in new ways. Brown argues that the simple, familiar and ubiquitous act of doodling can serve as a way to distill the tsunami of information we’re faced with every day into actionable ideas.
The word “doodle” may be something of a misnomer. While Brown provides ample support for the notion that idle doodles are anything but, she’s really advocating a more conscious approach, even providing a shorthand “alphabet” that users can adopt to make their doodles as densely informative as possible. She refers to this technique as “infodoodling.” Brown posits several uses for such drawings, from personal note-taking to “performance infodoodling,” in which an individual provides graphic interpretations of a presentation, not unlike the way a signer might interpret a speech for the hearing impaired.
One of the most intriguing of Brown’s techniques is group infodoodling, in which working groups contribute to a shared doodle to communicate the gist of arguments and ideas. The idea is to ensure that all participants clearly understand one another in a way that is often elusive in strictly verbal forms of communication.
Despite doodling’s usual association with rapid, barely conscious activity, this densely packed book takes a measured, interactive approach to the subject. Brown starts with the assumption that her readers are not only highly skeptical of doodling’s value, but also far from artistically inclined. Along the way, Brown offers dozens of drawing exercises and thought experiments so even those of us who have a hard time drawing a closed circle can develop our latent skills. And she provides detailed instructions on how to conduct specific types of meetings that readers can implement right away, including planning, problem-solving, decision-making and feedback, among others.
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