Drawing at work?

Try drawing at work to boost your team’s energy, communicate change and help them learn.

Years ago when I was working as a consultant for a leading bank I decided to try something a little different before a training session. I asked the participants to draw how they felt about coming to the course.

If I’d asked them to be strip naked I couldn’t have had a more surprised response.

I persisted – not with the stripping- and they drew how they felt. It was mostly a variety of stick figures and smiley as well as not so smiley faces. Their art teachers would have turned in their graves. However that wasn’t the point of the exercise. I wanted to discover the volunteers and the conscripts to this course very speedily so I could discover something to ignite the spark of learning.

I tried this experiment at another three conferences then dropped it. Why would bankers be interested in drawing I asked myself.

Two years later I met up with a senior banker from that first course. I was recalling apologetically the use of his group for my drawing experiment when he interrupted.

Oh, he said, that was a game changer for me. I get my team to draw how the month has gone before every board meeting. They now rush to the meeting room to get the best hanging space for their artwork. Some have taken up watercolours others pen and ink drawing. Recently there is talk of attending classes to paint in oils. The result, he claims, is a more energetic group who are more reflective and more ready to learn from their mistakes….and artistically competitive.

His meetings are famous around the bank and he has recently been promoted to run a division the size of a small planet. Meanwhile I had dropped my drawing idea.

It’s back on the agenda now!

Not convinced?  Well here are the advantages of drawing:

  • It stimulates good brain hormones for example, endorphins, dopamine and serotonin.
  • It accesses different parts of the brain from those used normally at work. More creative, less logical
  • It moves people from external cognitive states to more internal ones. In other words more reflective, more relaxed
  • People become more intuitive, more creative.

The CEO of Tower Hamlets Council when he wanted to institute change throughout the organisation commissioned an artist to create a frieze drawing the future of each department. It toured all council outposts with staff adding to the frieze. The changes were undertaken and received buy in as a result from all staff, so the uses of drawing are many and varied.

Be experimental.

If you want to find out more about creativity at work you can download a free chapter of my book.