Don’t let that idea get stuck in your head. I’m reading “Jony Ive” by Leander Kahny and he describes brainstorms with the team where everyone has their sketchbook and they sketch together for a few hours every week.
Weekly meetings ensure the design process is collaborative. Two or three times a week, Jony’s entire team gathers around the kitchen table for brainstorming sessions. All of the designers must be present. No exceptions. The sessions typically last for three hours, starting at nine or ten a.m.
But first, coffee.
The brainstorms begin with coffee. A couple of the designers play barista, making coffee for the group from a high-end espresso maker in the kitchen. Daniele De Iuliis, the Italian from the United Kingdom, is regarded as the coffee guru. “Danny D was the person who educated us all on coffee and grind and the color of the crema, how to properly do the milk, how temperature is important and all that stuff,” said Satzger, who was one of his keenest disciples.
Jony Ive sketching
How does Ive sketch? Fast.
He is a good at it, but emphasizes speed over detail. “He always wanted to get a thought down on paper so that people could understand it really quickly,” said Satzger. “Jony’s drawings were really sketchy, with a shaky hand. His drawing style was really interesting.”
Why thinking together works
Whipping the sketchbooks out means that everyone’s thinking is steered in the same direction week by week. But there’s still the freedom of each individual sketchbook. Go wild, but on the same idea. Then they’re able to store those sketchbooks to refer back to, compounding the knowledge week over week. In “The Extended Mind: The Power of Thinking Outside the Brain”, Annie Murphy Paul points out the power of staying in sync:
“Here the function of shared attention is not so much the expert instruction of a novice but rather the maintenance of a mutual store of information and impressions. We feel compelled to continuously monitor what our peers are paying attention to, and to direct our own attention to those same objects. (When the face of everyone on the street is turned skyward, we look up too.) In this way, our mental models of the world remain in sync with those of the people around us.”
No myth: you can put ideas in other people’s heads
You don’t need Leo and crew to do a dream heist to implant an idea in someone’s head. You just need a pencil. In “Every Tool’s a Hammer: Life Is What You Make It”, Adam Savage describes this power:
“In my experience, the ability to take an idea from your own mind and transfer it to the mind of another person is intoxicating. It is a kind of creative empowerment that makes all your other crazy ideas feel maybe not so crazy. And the fact that you only need a pencil and a piece of paper to make it happen, that is most empowering of all.”
The next time you find yourself fumbling to describe an idea to someone, try sketching it out instead. If they think the idea still stinks, at least you’ll know you were talking about the same thing.