Author: Rachel Emma Silverman, Wall Street Journal.
Doodling for Dollars was originally posted on wsj.com on April 24, 2012.
Put down that smartphone; pick up that crayon.
Employees at a range of businesses are being encouraged by their companies to doodle their ideas and draw diagrams to explain complicated concepts to colleagues.
While whiteboards long have been staples in conference rooms, companies such as Facebook Inc. are incorporating whiteboards, chalkboards and writable glass on all sorts of surfaces to spark creativity.
Firms are holding training sessions to teach employees the basics of what's known as visual note taking. Others, like vacation-rental company HomeAway Inc. and retailer Zappos, are hiring graphic recorders, consultants who sketch what is discussed at meetings and conferences, cartoon-style, to keep employees engaged.
Doodling proponents say it can help generate ideas, fuel collaboration and simplify communication. It can be especially helpful among global colleagues who don't share a common first language. Putting pen to paper also is seen as an antidote to the pervasiveness of digital culture, getting workers to look up from their devices. And studies show it can help workers retain more information.
Even with advanced gadgets such as smartphones and tablets, "the hand is the easiest way to get something down," says Everett Katigbak, a communication designer at Facebook. Most of the walls at the company's offices around the country have been coated with dry-erase or chalkboard paint or a treatment for glass to allow employees to sketch ideas whenever they arise. The company's offices are filled with jottings, from mathematical equations to doodles of cats and dollar signs.
IdeaPaint Inc., which makes a paint that turns a surface into a whiteboard, says its sales have doubled annually since the product was introduced in 2008. The Ashland, Mass., company says more than half of its business is in the workplace.
Taking notes and drawing may help workers stay more focused, too.
A 2009 study published in the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology found that doodlers retained more than nondoodlers when remembering information that had been presented in a boring context, such as a meeting or conference call. The logic, according to Jackie Andrade, a psychology professor at the University of Plymouth in England, is that doodling takes up just enough cognitive energy to prevent the mind from daydreaming.
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*Photo courtesy of birgerking