I recently sketched a visual in a customer session to illustrate a point. The point was transient, important at the time, but ultimately fleeting.

At least for me.

Taped on the wall, it stayed there until we were cleaning up after the workshop. Like all the artifacts of the day, we photographed it to share later (just in case), whilst some customer attendees remained in the room to attend to their queue of piled up email.

 Scrunching4

I pulled the sketch from the wall and scrunched it into a ball, tossed it in the nearest bin, and carried on tidying up. I guess because the room was so quiet, the scrunch of paper was louder than I’d anticipated. One of the attendees, who saw me first create and then destroy the graphic, was surprised. “You should have kept that, it was good! Why scrunch it up?!” was her gentle protest. It felt like she was trying to make me feel better (as if I’d thrown it away because I didn’t like it). 

I admit I was flattered that something I created was held in sufficiently high regard, but given we’d explained that we would photograph and circulate everything on the walls, I was actually surprised.

 Scrunching1

The reason, I reflected, was because of the difference in how I have come to regard these sketches and how others regard them. A positive side-effect of my creative confidence? Maybe.

Maybe it’s the evolution one should come to expect? Let me say right now, if I had spent hours on the drawing, it’s possible I’d not have felt the same way about throwing it away. But really, in this forum, what was the value of the sketch? Was it in the actual artifact? Or was it in the idea I tried to cement in the minds of the workshop attendees?

 Scrunching3

The lesson I learned some time ago was to not get too attached to these visuals. Like a colleague of mine recently said, “stop loving the software, start loving the positive impact it has on your customer”. The memorable effect you want to have on individuals is the prize. 

And if you can positively influence someone’s thinking, cementing an idea in their heads, influencing their thoughts and driving behaviour, then that creative confidence will allow you to physically destroy even your finest sketch, because the tangible win lies elsewhere.

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  • Esther Blankenship   5 years ago

    Hi Varik,

    I really enjoyed reading both of your posts, and I find comfort in your exhortations to, if I may paraphrase the motto of a famous footwear company, “just draw it!”

    I understand your point about the real value of the sketches not being in the physical drawing themselves, but in the concept they serve to visualize. Nonetheless, I can also empathize with the woman in your course. In this age of near effortless digital creation and reproduction, many things seem so fleeting and devalued. Something created “the old fashioned way” is unique. For example, a recipe written out by hand by a grandmother is something like a holy relic in our house. Encased in a plastic sleeve to keep cooking splatters from sullying it, I seek to preserve the document in its pristine state for the next generation. Quite different from the recipes I print out from the internet, which I subject to considerably rougher treatment.

    So, maybe next time, consider giving your drawings away to your participants as a souvenir instead of throwing them away!