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Back to the Drawing Board, Literally

While walking down the street, eating in a restaurant, or sitting through yet another business meeting, it’s no longer unusual to see a number of people with their heads buried in their smart phones.  Between all the emails, texts, apps and games, people are constantly glued to the little screens filled with graphics and information. Many are probably playing the insanely popular mobile game Draw Something – recently acquired by social gaming giant Zynga – where players draw and share pictures in a Pictionary-style game. Turns out they may actually just be practicing for some of those stuffy meetings after all.

Ironically, the concept of drawing something has moved off of our mobile devices and back onto physical surfaces.  Some companies are finding that workers are so engrossed with their phones that they are trying out doodling during meetings to engage employees and facilitate communication.

Companies as diverse as software maker Citrix Systems, vacation-rental company HomeAway, online retailer Zappos, insurer and care provider Spectrum Health System, Turner Broadcasting System and even Microsoft are encouraging doodling. Many conference rooms and hallways are covered in doodles from floor to ceiling as employees sketch out their complicated ideas to better communicate them. Facebook has almost every surface of its offices available for doodling, including writable glass tables and dry erase paint on the walls.

Though sketching schematics or diagrams during meetings isn’t necessarily new in the business world, companies are now starting to make meetings more interactive by asking employees to get up and draw what they are discussing. In some cases, companies are even hiring sketch artists called “graphic recorders” to help host brainstorming sessions, keeping attendees engaged and the creative ideas flowing.

To stay ahead of the competition and increase productivity, companies will try many different tactics. Effective plans and timelines are key to these new strategic directions, even if they are just doodling around.

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