Mike Rohde talks with John, Ward, Dan, and Craig about drawing sketchnotes. What is sketchnoting? How do you balance words vs pictures in sketchnotes? What are the tools people need to get started with sketchnotes? And what about people who can't draw - can they still use sketchnoting?
Recording date: Feb 16, 2021
John Papa @John_Papa
Ward Bell @WardBell
Dan Wahlin @DanWahlin
Craig Shoemaker @craigshoemaker
Mike Rohde @rohdesign
Visit nx.dev to get the preeminent open-source toolkit for monorepo development, today.
Podcast editing on this episode done by Chris Enns of Lemon Productions.
Craig Shoemaker 0:04
Welcome to Web Rush, the weekly talk show that brings you Stories of Real World development from industry experts. And developers like you and me. Each week, Ward Bell, Dan Wahlin, Craig Shoemaker, and John Papa, find out what it takes to write, deploy and maintain apps that stand up to the demands of the real world. And now, here are your hosts.
John Papa 0:29
Welcome back to web rush, and today's episode, Episode 123. We're all talking about sketchnoting. And if you're not familiar with sketchnoting is well, this is a great place for you to learn about it. Because we're talking about how technology and sketchnoting kind of intersect. And to start this discussion off, I've got my co host Ward, Craig and Dan, How y'all doing? Excellent.
Craig Shoemaker 0:53
I was just taking notes with, you know, a chisel and a tablet over here. So I'm really excited to hear what well,
John Papa 0:59
wait, use a chisel on your iPad?
Craig Shoemaker 1:01
It doesn't last as long as it should, but it happened. I'm still kicking.
Dan Wahlin 1:08
Ctaig are you past the warranty phase?
Craig Shoemaker 1:10
I think so. Yeah. Maybe Maybe one of my kids dropped into something first.
John Papa 1:15
So, the word I hear that you do a lot of sketchnoting inside your Tesla on that screen, right? Oh,
Ward Bell 1:21
yeah. Yeah, you're while I'm driving, I'm constantly drawing. And I'm like Mr. Magoo. You know, everybody get out of the way. No, I,
John Papa 1:32
I got a reference to Mr. Magoo into the show notes.
Ward Bell 1:37
Yeah. roadog. Um, yeah, the thing is that I, I failed handwriting in in sandbox, and things like that in kindergarten. So I'm really interested in how to take kind of, you know, to overcome that feeling of incompetence with a pen in hand.
John Papa 2:02
That'll be good. I think we're gonna talk a lot today about kind of what what this is why technology should be interested in sketchnoting. And kind of how it plays into problems. Every technologist has today, I would go so far as to say, and then there's multiple ways you can use sketchnoting as well. You don't actually have to have an iPad, for example, to solve this problem, and you don't have to have artistic ability, which you can't see Dan, but Dan, swipe in the sweat office.
Dan Wahlin 2:31
Mike's gonna have to convince me on that one, but we'll get to that. And with
John Papa 2:35
that, Mark, our guest today is Mike roadie, how you doing Mike?
Mike Rohde 2:39
I'm doing great. It's great to be here with you guys.
John Papa 2:42
Thanks for joining us. And, Mike, it's an honor for us to have you on today. I've as we were talking before the show, I've read your books, or I've read sketchnoting books that are written in sketch notes. I don't know. I've I've consumed your books, maybe a better way to say it right.
Mike Rohde 3:01
That it tastes good. That's the question.
John Papa 3:05
So for those of you out there who are not familiar with Mike, let me tell you a little about him. Mike is a designer and author of two best selling books, the sketchnote handbook and the sketch note workbook. He teaches and evangelizes sketchnoting and Visual Thinking literacy around the world. He's a principal designer and visualizer. at Johnson Controls. The team that helps group define problems and imagine new solutions using Human Centered Design Thinking principles. Mike illustrated the best selling books rework, remote $100 startup and the little book of talent. He lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he's freezing right now with his wife and three children.
Mike Rohde 3:37
Yes, we are. Well, actually, it's getting a little warmer here. I see the snow melting. But we have plenty of snow.
John Papa 3:43
Yeah, right now, time of recording a massive cold spell and storms have been hitting the entire central United States. So I hope everybody is doing okay out there. So Mike, tell us all about what you know, what is what is sketchnoting? Like, is that even the proper term for anymore?
Mike Rohde 4:01
Yeah, it is. And I you know, I was really fortunate back when I started experimenting with this idea to give it a name that has stuck and seems to express what it is which is really fun. as a as a creator, right as the Discover maybe that's a better way to describe it. sketchnoting is this combination of drawing simply using lettering as well as writing, so you're still writing, you're not stopping writing. And it's a focus on the big ideas. So when you listen to a talk or you consume, there's a consumer and again, consume a book or magazine or you experience something. Things are going through your mind you're having thoughts about things. And this is a way to capture those ideas. Using those different elements. You can write it, you can draw it, you can do lettering, and use those in different ways to produce a sketch note. And in a lot of ways, I like to call them notes plus, because it's not like you stop writing, writing what you're thinking about is you do in traditional notes. But in fact, you're adding to the notes. And you might be actually, you know, dialing back some of the, the, the verbosity, where'd that word came from. But, you know, writing and writing and writing and writing, right? So I, I can tell you the story of the reason how I came up with this sketchnoting idea was I was one of those people who wrote too much, I wrote everything, I would go to conferences and such. And I felt as though I had to write everything down like, I was a recording device or something, I don't know, I'm not even really sure how I ended up in this place. But I've always been a big technologist at the time I was into MacBook, two O's, and palm pilots and all this technology stuff, it was really part of my life. And I think I just sort of stumbled into it without realizing. And I found myself in this place where I wanted to go back to writing with paper. So my natural thought was, well, if I have to capture everything, I need a big notebook with lines, and I five mistakes, I really need a pencil so I can erase those mistakes. And it put me in this weird place where I was actually really good at note taking, but I hated it. It was really like a burden to me. Because I felt again, like I'd write everything down. I was writing, writing all this stuff. And then at the end that would have, you know, 1520 pages of notes. Now I'm like, do I really want to go through all this stuff? Again, this is like a nightmare all over again, right? Not only did I not really get a lot of things while I was busy trying to write it down. Now I've got to go back and make sense of it that this doesn't make sense. So it finally reached a head in 2007. And I decided, you know what? I'm a big experimenter. As a designer, I like to try prototyping and experimenting, said, What if I just did an experiment? I have a conference coming up in Chicago, which is a train ride from here in Milwaukee. And I said, What would happen if I just inverted all the requirements? It was my George Costanza, you know, or George Costanza decides to do everything opposite. And he ends up like with an amazing job and a really cool car and a beautiful girlfriend, because he does everything opposite that George normally does. It was sort of like that, except around notetaking. So I said, Alright, I have this pocket moleskin notebook I purchased and couldn't use because it was too beautiful. Alright, that's the book that I'll use. And what would be the opposite of a pencil? Well, that would be a gel pen. Because when the ink goes on the page, you can't take it off, right? It's there, you have to do something, something with it. And it's sort of put me in a place where the book was too small to write everything down. And the pen forced me to be really deliberate about what I put on the pages. And so it pushed me completely away from this idea to write write, write, write, write, towards, I need to listen intently. I need to analyze in the moment, what what I'm hearing and make sense of it and put it down in my own words, on the page. And for me, coming from where I came from, I felt like I had like, all the time in the world, like, Wow, I've got like, all this extra time I have, right, because I'm not writing all the time. And then I started paying attention to the presentations and what the images were on the presentation, or as the speaker would speak, what were the images that were appearing in my mind as I was listening, or the connections, and I would start capturing those things. And so I used those, again, those basic things I was writing, I was drawing. I love typography. So I was doing lettering, you know, emphasizing words, and those three things through this conference. And I got to the end of it. And I was like, Wow, that was really fun. I want to do that again. And so then I just kept continuing to do it and experiment at different conferences, started sharing it. That was another dynamic, which is that's where it intersects with technology. I shared it on the exciting social media network of flicker at the time, because because Twitter had just been released. Nobody knew it. Nobody knew what Twitter was or why he would bother using it. We still don't have that mic. Yeah, that's a that's, that's true. So and naturally flicker like you think of it as a grandfather of Instagram was very visually oriented, right? A lot of photography there. So I thought, well, I did these notes, they really seemed to solve a problem for me. Let's put them up and see what happens. Another experiment. So I did that. And some of the speakers from the event saw them and like, wow, these are really cool. They you can you compress my whole talk down into like a page and a half or something. And then But the interesting thing was people that were not at the event, were commenting like these are really helpful. I'm actually getting, I'm learning something from your notes. I have a sense of what that event was like. So if it comes in my area, I might consider going. I was like, Wow, that's really interesting. Not only is it solving a problem for me, but it's communicating to other people. I need to keep on doing this and maybe I need to start sharing how to do it. So the doing it came first I had lots of experimentation learned a lot of things. And then later the sharing came in the form The book that I created, and then a follow up book, The sketchnote workbook, in trying to capture all the things I learned in the last five years, put it into a really concise, really visually interesting book that communicates those ideas and shares the concepts so that someone could read that book in literally a couple of hours, and then do it right away. So I'm a real big believer in, you teach the concepts and then you apply it right away before you lose the heat. I think that's a really important key. So all those things are sort of where I ended up with the book. And now I'm doing, you know, podcasts and teaching and speaking, and so forth. And then using the same concepts, when I go to work every day, I mean, it's, it's sort of leaks out of me whether I like it or not. So I just continue to use it in all kinds of different settings. And I'm always experimenting. So those are things that are true with me, I could to this day,
Craig Shoemaker 10:53
I love how you kind of I don't know fell into it is the right type of wording to it. But you know, it's not like you set out to make this big movement or anything. It's just it sort of came out of you like you you're describing.
Mike Rohde 11:06
Yeah, I think that and I think that's probably a good thing like it. I really like organic movements, things that seems to be like when things organically happen, they're a lot more stable and reliable. Isn't there? What's the old phrase, you cannot something like you can't produce a working system, out of a non working system, something like this, like you have to like it has to organically grow. And then you, you tweak it and tune it almost like or like, like working on a tree, right? Or something like those little Japanese trees. And the danger comes in technology where you think you're so smart that you're going to rebuild everything from scratch. And that's when you get really getting into trouble, right? When you when you think you're making it so much better, instead of letting the thing emerge to some degree and then guiding it.
Dan Wahlin 11:49
Or we're pretty good at that as technologists. I think now that you said that, Mike, I'm gonna go write a new CRM. For those.
John Papa 11:59
Yeah, Far too often in technology we set out and we like, you know what, this is really cool, I'm gonna go do this thing. And we need to find a solution to a problem nobody has. And that happens a lot out there. That's why I agree with Craig, I find it fascinating how you kind of fell into things. Hey, are you building apps in react Angular node,
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John Papa 13:01
For those who might be wondering, where can we use this? You mentioned a couple examples. If I heard you correctly, tell me if I'm wrong here. Places of taking notes instead of taking copious like pages of notes, for example, in words, which it can be hard to keep up with sounds like you sketch notes for yourself, in that case, but then you also talked about conferences that you went to, can you? Can you talk about more like how can you watch something? or attend a conference online or in person? And also be taking sketch notes at the same time? Like what are your what what is the value there? And how do you do that?
Mike Rohde 13:37
Hmm, that's a really good, that's a really good question. And I can certainly go into more detail about applications. I continue to experiment and other people, not me, take the concepts that are applying it in ways I couldn't have imagined which going back to the organic nature of it growing and sort of setting principles around it, I think is really key, like not not overburdening it with too much junk so that people can take it and use it. But as far as application coming back to that, the first thing that I applied it to was obviously a conference, I want to learn something like I spent a lot of money for this conference, I want some some actionable thing, at the end of the day when I'm riding the train back home, that I could flip through my notes and say, oh, that that thing I can use that tomorrow, or this one, that'd be really great for that project. Right? That's the purpose of why I would do this. The challenge I think you're sort of hinting at is doing the sketchnoting while someone's presenting and sort of the challenges of like, absorbing information capturing it and that is definitely a learned skill. So you, you start probably not as good as you like. And over time you practice the concepts and you get better at it. Part of it is keeping the drawing simple and clear. Part of it is you're doing lots of analysis you're taking you know in reality speakers unless they're really really good and you can after use sketch note for a while If you spot really good speakers really quickly that some speakers will fill in, like if you give them an hour, they'll take a half an hour talk and stretch it, right? They'll be repeating information or telling you funny stories or like that aren't necessarily relevant to the point that they're sharing. It's just the standard way that ideas are presented to us, right. So in a lot of cases, we're getting a lot more information than we would capture and notes that we would use for application. So that's one thing. And I think part of it is making that distinction. So if you're doing listening and analysis now, and you're making a decision, oh, that's a really interesting idea. You're sort of, it's like the junior high class project that your teacher says, You need to read this book, and then write about what it means in your own words, right? It's sort of like that. You're doing analysis, conceptualizing, you're making connections to your own life like this is like this thing that I have related to, and you're capturing it in the way that makes sense to you, as a way to tie it to past ideas that you may have learned or like, oh, that I never thought about, this could actually be a way I could solve this problem, right? You're, you're giving it application. So that would be presentations like that. And that was the most natural way that I felt we could reach people. So when you look at the sketchnote Handbook, there's lots of emphasis on conferences and such, because that was a really immediately appliable idea. But the workbook was, hey, I've got all this other stuff, but we can't fit it in this book. Let's just do another book and put all the stuff in that one. So that talks about how can you use it in Agile software development projects or other agile projects? How can you use it for ideation? Like, I've got this idea, and I need to solve it, either individually or in a group? How can I document a process and see where things are working and not working?
John Papa 16:51
experiences language and using visuals can help you explain yourself better than writing 30 steps of one by one of what you're going through? Maybe not always, but but also it doesn't curriculum wrong. But sketchnoting doesn't always mean or visual note taking or wherever we go with this. It doesn't always mean just pictures, right? Like you write words in there. And it's so how, how do you know how to balance the words with the pictures?
Mike Rohde 17:18
That's a great question. And if you look in the book, too, I sort of, in my mind, I saw this is like a slider, like a slider on your tape deck or your whatever, you know, hardware, right, where you can slide from one side to the other. On one end is like hardcore writing, like I'm in a board meeting, and I can't miss details. So you're going to push that slider way to the tech side, because it's very important that you don't miss details. If you're at a TED talk, maybe you slide it way over to the visual side, you can do more drawings, and then you're annotating or maybe it's just a lower proportion of, you know, words to pictures. So I think there's kind of a slider, and I think it's more dependent on what what am I trying to get out of this, and what's the context, and then you sort of make that decision about the slider based on that. And then there's also layouts to standard structures you can follow, that might also encourage your help your information gathering based on the context. So there's a couple of different, you know, components that would factor into how you're approaching the sketchnote you're gonna do,
Craig Shoemaker 18:20
I was just gonna say, to make this kind of concrete for our audience, you you mentioned natural process. Can you describe what that might look like, if someone applied it?
Mike Rohde 18:30
Yeah, you know, I know, um, I have a friend who's in the Netherlands, and he's an agile coach, actually, a couple of Agile coaches, and they use quite a bit of drawing in the work that they do. I know that it's really popular to use software tools to track tasks. But these guys, especially early in the process, before they, you know, get too tied to a tool, they kind of make people write on post it notes or in a retrospective, right, you're writing down the things that what went well, what didn't go well, even, I think, using visualization in the sprint reviews, right? Where you're sharing the concepts, maybe there's applications there. So there's, there's a lot of it, I think, is more inter team communication. And then writing and drawing as a way to kind of like, especially for developers who you spend your life on a keyboard on a laptop or something like you kind of like, maybe you sort of need to get away from that screen. Like it's just so normal that like breaking away makes you think a little differently or makes you like having to write it down makes you process the thoughts you're having. And maybe the outputs that you're having on those sticky notes might be a little different than, you know the routine that you slip into when you're using some kind of a, you know, a card based tool that's basically replicating sticky notes, right. So
Craig Shoemaker 19:46
I think there can be benefits. My penmanship has gotten so bad from using a computer for so long.
Ward Bell 19:54
One of the things when you were talking about the words versus pictures, it struck me looking at your stuff that Words are always pictures, you're just me. And you never use selected a word or two because you can only because you're drawing your birds, you're not typing them. And, and, you know, the often the first letter of the word is as big, you know, if it's cash, it's like see with $1 sign through it or something like that. So it, it struck me that you're going non verbal, even when it's text. And, and the, the key to what I think you're doing is select is filtering and selecting for the key for the critical idea. And which is quite different than when I'm sitting in a lecture and sort of trying to, to get it all down. And it seemed to me that your sketch thing says no, this is not about recording it accurately, it's about latching on to the essential idea whether and that could be expressed as a visual word or as a picture. And I think that that, that's a fascinating switch, because particularly, you know, when people went to college, they would try and write down everything, get the get teachers stuff, every word down. And your sketch thing says, No, no, no, no, no, no, no. Forget, forget that, you know. And that's, that's really fascinating. Now, what you're doing when you saying you're doing that live at a conference, that seems to me like being able to improvise at the piano that's like way, way beyond me. But where I, what I do see is sort of an easier entry point is that all of us have the need to commute. And by the way, john, I've watched john at a conference actually do it. He's sketching as he's doing. And so he's learned how to improvise to the piano, but the rest of us not yet. It's that classic problem of how do I communicate the essence of an idea, and you see people with PowerPoints, and they put too many words in a bullet and all that other stuff, you seem to me with this technique to be giving people another chance to tell a story economically. And I wondered if that's kind of the core concept you're getting across?
Mike Rohde 22:16
Yeah, you know, in the beginning, you know, the revelation I had with a combination of the book that was too small and the pen that I couldn't erase, yeah, that that together made the the jumble ayah, which was the big idea, what is the big idea? Right? How do I boil this down? I'm making a make an espresso not pots of coffee, right? It's you sort of boiling down the concept as much as you can, obviously, some concepts are more complex, and maybe, but I mean, even those can be reduced, not not reduced as in like a lossy format, like JPEG, where you're throwing things away, but more like, what are the key principles that I'm trying to take away from this? And either, remember, because I think you know, if you wanted to have every so I think you're going back to your concern about college or high school, the idea that you write everything down is the fear that you might be tested on it. Right? If I'm tested on this, and I don't write it down, I'm dead. right in, that's maybe a byproduct of the educational system. But I think every teacher would say, I want comprehension, I want you to comprehend the concepts to be able to when I asked you about, you know, the Punic Wars that you could tell me, what was the context? Why did they happen? And what was the result? Like? you would you would have it enough in your memory and personality, that you could explain in a concise way, what that meant, and what the impact was. Right? So that's a that's what I think you're exactly what I'm trying to get to is this. Constantly, like winnowing, down editing, reducing,
Ward Bell 23:48
getting to getting to the heart of it. And that's what a post it note does for you to write. I mean, you can't, you can't take notes, detailed notes out of post it notes for it by changing the form. You can you switch the brain around to say, How do I get it across? I think that's brilliant.
John Papa 24:03
Yeah, there's a lot of things we're going to get to and I want to take a quick moment just to let folks know some topics that we're going to we're going to ask Mike and also to give Mike a heads up, I'm going to have to ask him about to a lot of you are probably wondering, yeah, this is great, but I can't draw worth a lick. Where do I start? So we're gonna go there next, but also the topic of whitespace I think we need to come back to that a little bit and how you do how you're planful? on these, the topic of Do you use paper and pencil or paper and pen? Or do you use like an iPad or a Windows surface? You know, what are your options for kind of going down this road? And then I ultimately want to get to, you know, folks who want to try this where Mike, maybe we can end with this mic at the end of the podcast. Where do you point people to and I've written notes on this in sketch notes to get to this point, but maybe we can start a little bit in that area of you know, if you're trying to get Somebody's using sketch notes. What is the right way to kind of get started with this? Maybe not necessarily like lessons, but like, if you were going to tell somebody to get moving with sketch notes, what are the first couple things? You generally tell somebody?
Mike Rohde 25:15
Hmm, that's a great question. I have a mini workshop that I can teach. If I really compress it, I can teach it in about 30 minutes, maybe 20. If I really push it, the key things that I teach people are, what you mentioned, here was the five basic shapes that I discovered as I was preparing to do the book. And this it's this this idea of drawing as building with Legos almost. And
John Papa 25:38
would you mind repeating with those are the notes but yeah,
Mike Rohde 25:41
yeah, definitely. It's square circle, triangle, line and.in, I have lots of colleagues in the Visual Thinking space that have much broader collections of characters that they include, like 12, or eight, or I just felt like five was rememberable. And it was easy to share, even like little kids could absorb it. And, and the reality is, is that every shape that you're drawing is basically a dot that's strong in a certain format, right? So I mean, if you really wanted to say, the one basic element of drawing is a dot, that may not help people, right. So it's a when I teach it, I show what the five are. So square circle, triangle, line dot, and then I simply apply it. So the first thing I'll draw is like a house. And usually I'll start with the word house underneath, and then I'll draw above a square with a triangle on top. And I say, that's all you need to communicate the idea of house, really simple and fast. Now you can add more detail. And then I demonstrate, okay, let's add a door, let's add a window, a doorknob, attic, window smokestack. And then smoke coming out of the smokestack. And now I've used four of the five elements in the drawing that I'm doing right, so you can follow along, I encourage people to follow along as well. And then I continue to do that. And then I build basic icons, for about, I don't know, about 10 minutes, just showing how these elements can be used together. The other aspect that I teach around this is, you can almost think of it as like a game within the practice, which is how few lines or shapes how few of these five Can I use to communicate a concept and object? Whatever I'm meaning to draw, like, what can I get away with. So it's kind of fun, like, instead of feeling, I have to use 15, it's like, hey, if I can do this with one, and I write some word underneath it, and that communicates that, you know, that's practical in the long term for sketchnoting. Because you're trying to move fast, like you say, it's lots of information coming in quickly, you have to move quickly. So that that's really the first and critical thing, if I can only teach one thing, it would be that because from that everything expands. And then I would say the second thing is if you're coming into it as a traditional notetaker. And you're used to writing a lot like I did, maybe not to the degree I did, it is to gradually add drawing to your notes. So don't feel like you have to go whole hog and do all this stuff, all real time with drawing and pictures and writing and trying to sort it all out. That's too much. Start with a lot of times for early beginners, I'll start with, let's say two thirds of your page, you continue to use for writing. And you reserve that one third column to the right, or to the left for your drawings, and you just write your note notes. Normally, you do a lot more analysis in the moment, instead of feeling like you have to write everything. So that's your first step. And then that right or left column, you draw images that are popping into mind or things on the deck that you see that that are really interesting. Or it might be like when somebody's rambling, that's when you do your drawing that connects to the thing to the left to the right. And so you start that way, and you practice that. So you're slowly like just adding a little bit of sketch note drawing, and then over time, then maybe you can split it 5050. And then maybe the next step is I'm going to try a different layout. And I'm going to do radio, where it radio is the content or the topic is in the middle. And then outside on the radio edges are concepts that relate to the topic, almost like mind mapping, right? So you can sort of work your I'm a real big believer in taking baby steps, and then continuing to push over and over to expand your capabilities. Because if you try and go like full, you know, like I've been doing this for, I don't know, 15 years, I get lots of practice, and lots of training from design school. Right. So I've got some advantages. But the last thing I'll say is that if you think artists have an advantage, often they don't. In fact, artists have a harder time I found in my teaching, like letting go of their ability to draw and simplifying actually people who have no drawing ability often take to this idea much more quickly because they can see a way out of the hole that they're in and here
John Papa 29:47
Dan Wahlin 29:51
I got it that you made me laugh there Mike because I went so is there hope for me. So when I was the no joke when I was I think I was eight or nine. My mom sent me to art class. And I wanted to do with
Ward Bell 30:07
the money, Dan.
Dan Wahlin 30:09
But after two, she stopped sending me. So I'm kind of like, did the art teacher, you know, was she like, there is no hope for this kid just give up. Now. I think what you said though, in all seriousness, it probably helps because I could draw a square, I could draw a triangle. Now circles are proud to work on to make them look like circles. But what's your recommendation there, then it just comes down to you just got to do it in practice, like, learn the basics and practice from there and build up,
Mike Rohde 30:42
I would say, practice is a big part of it. I think there's no way around, not practicing, you would see that in any skill you want to acquire, I would say probably a bigger thing for someone like you is grace for yourself. Like you came out when we began suggesting that you can't draw and that's okay. I think that's when I do these courses. First thing I'll ask is, Hey, who in here says they can't draw and a bunch of hands go up? And I know, because I've done it hundreds of times when I teach this concept, that they'll come out of it having some confidence that, hey, I can actually draw some things, right. And I think so it comes down to you talked about taking an art class. I think as much as I love art, and I think art is really critical for our culture, there is baggage with art education at times, where kids have sort of this feeling like if I'm not as good as that person, then I should just stop or, you know, like the question you had, why did my mom stop? After two? That you know, was not good enough, like not knowing. So right there is baggage tied to art. That's the phrase that I use all the time as ideas, not art. And it's it sounds really provocative against art, but it really isn't. It's, we're focusing on idea generation and idea capture. And if you can do the art on top of it, that's like gravy on the potatoes, or a cherry on the, on the smoothie or whatever, right? So it's if you bring it back, like that's a huge relief to people that raise their hands and say they can't draw is that you don't have to be great artists do this, and we will show you the basics. And then they actually practice it and come out and say I actually can draw, after half an hour coming out of this little course, or watching it on a YouTube video. And it gives you some level of ability and willingness to go to the next step. Because if you if you just feel failure, right away, it's really hard to to move, like, why would I practice something I fail at? And I think probably the last thing I'll say is, when people say they can't draw, I think it tends to be like a binary like you either can or you can't I don't think that's totally true. I think it's more like I can't draw in parentheses, as well as I would like to write you would love to draw like Michelangelo or, you know, Frank Miller on Daredevil or whatever, right? Like, that would be awesome. But you know, you're just not there yet. You haven't practiced something you haven't practiced. And you haven't learned to do so how could you be expected to do that level of drawing without the practice? So?
John Papa 33:03
Well, Mike, you're nailing something on me too, which I think a lot of people I see run into, and I don't hear talked about as much. And let me give you a scenario for me. And you tell me if I'm I'm just unique and weird. Or if you see this and how you how you recommend me to solve this. I love drawing on paper, with gel pens, I use field notes, I use mole skins, I use whatever I've got, like little books. I love the feel of that. And I move much faster in those. And I'm much happier with the results than when I love my iPad Pro. And I use procreate. And I actually do draw on the side. But I don't like sketchnoting in the iPad. And I think my reasoning for this is I can't get the lines, right. So I spend hours erasing the darn thing over and over again, to get the perfect line. Like Dan talked about a circle not being circular. I want it to be exactly where I want it. But I don't want to use an exact circle, because then it's too perfect. Because the tool will help me do that. And I at this point have totally lost the spirit of what I'm doing. And that's why I kind of feel like for me paper and pen works. For others maybe like tools like procreate and the iPad work. What How do you advise people with the technology versus the low tech?
Mike Rohde 34:16
Hmm. Well, that's this is a great question. And I think you're sort of in a weird uncanny valley. It sounds like there where it's sort of like drawing on paper, but it's sort of not you're not you haven't figured out like what your what your constraints are to make it a little bit more like that way. I'm a believer in that whole spectrum. So anything from paper and pen, up to an iPad Pro and pencil if you think about it, though, like the iPad Pro and pencil is graded as it as it is I use one all the time. Think about how many pens and papers you could buy for that 12 $100 or whatever. You know, like that's a lot of pen and paper that you could purchase probably a lifetime of pen and paper if you've never bought one and that's not to knock it right. It's got its benefits. But there are some things about it. That sort of push you into that uncanny valley, right? Where in some ways you can do anything on this device like any in procreate any canvas size you want any almost any brush, and there's always more brushes to come.
John Papa 35:13
And you can scale. Like when you kind of get too big I can I can pinch and make it smaller, which is good.
Ward Bell 35:18
I was gonna ask him like, do you ever race? Do you ever? It's when you're in the middle of this stuff? Do you? How much are you locked into the quality of the drawing, which is what john is talking about is he's gotten lost in the tool, he wants to make a good drawing. And I have a sense, you know, particularly watching you do it. You know, in your little videos, you don't go back. Now you just say like whatever I drew is what I drew, is that is that the way it goes? Is that your recommendation?
Craig Shoemaker 35:48
Is it because he was able to essentially erase? Like, I think that's one of the key things that you said, there's like that constraint really helps you
Mike Rohde 35:57
most of the time. So if I use paper and pen, just like john said, obviously, you can't go back unless use whiteout or start over something. So like there is sort of a constraint there that forces you to live with whatever you produce, I will also say that pen on paper has a certain feel to it. You don't have to worry about your book running out of batteries and having to charge it up again. Or when it dies, that your pencil stops working right like weird kind of technology, things that we put up with and don't think twice about but are kind of silly and funny in some ways. So that I think we're sort of talking about constraints here. So paper and pen have a certain set of constraints. And they're really, really valuable for certain things. And maybe for john, this is really the space he should be in, right. And if he needs to modify them, maybe then you draw the little elements you want to fix in Photoshop, I'm in there, right? That's what I used to do. Before I had a network before an iPad Pro existed. Back when the first iPad came out, I thought it would be really great. And I picked one up, and we used it for videos and all that kind of stuff. But I really struggled because none of the none of the styli were good enough to produce the level of quality I wanted. I was always frustrated. So I just I kind of gave up until the iPad Pro came out. I tested it in an apple showroom. It's like okay, this this, they finally got it. And then I picked up the 9.7. So I waited a little bit beyond the first announcement. And I think what I found was, I needed constraints a lot like john, I still use this app called paper by retransfer. It's a really old app, it's been around for a long time since the inception of the iPad. The interesting thing about it is it's very constrained if you compare it to procreate, and I think procreate might be a better tool in some ways for illustration, although lots of people use it for sketchnoting. The thing I like about paper, is it feels the most like using paper in some ways, but it has some of the benefits of the iPad, like copying and pasting or erasing. But the tools are limited. Like they're really opinion like you hear this opinionated software, like this is really opinionated software, right? Like, you only have these tools, they only work in this way. If you want to extend them, you have to buy the pro version. But even then, you can't extend them. Like if you draw something you can't size it, you can't rotate it. Like there's all these restrictions, which on the surface you would see as like, oh, why would I use that tool? But I think, john, I'm feel the same way. Like when I use it, I feel like it sort of boxes me in it actually forces me to be more creative within the constraints that I'm presented with. And it you know that the engines that they've created still feel a lot like real ink on paper. As far as the LC for the iPad Pro specifically, I can't speak to the surface because I don't know it as well, that the surface that slippery glass surface bugged me. And the first thing I did was I found Matt, st covers, and that helped tremendously. Because it brought back the feeling of drag and paper like there's a tool called paper like that I use now that has little micro dots on there. I bought that too. Yeah. So the combination of like, constraints and sort of trying to approach it with this. But again, it's still I still love paper, in many cases because of the limitations and the benefits it provides. So typically, with the iPad Pro, I'm doing that for things where like if I'm doing client work, like a sketch note for a client, and I know there's likely going to be a typo in there because I misspell things. It gives me the ability to go back and fix those things. So its purpose is more for production level stuff. But I also I like paper too, because because it's so limited, like it forces me to focus on the doing and not on the tooling. And I think you can make, procreate, do this as well. You can decide, this is my canvas size, it's eight and a half by 11. Or whatever size you decide. These are my three or four pens that I'll use. Here's my color palette. Maybe you even limit yourself like I only use three layers, right because you can go crazy with layers to
John Papa 39:59
discipline level with procreate that I don't have.
Mike Rohde 40:03
Yeah, it's, I have a friend Rob dimeo, who's a physicist, and he uses procreate religiously really good at it. And he said the first thing he did was establish all his constraints, page size, brushes, colors, and an approach and that he said that really helped him focus in on the doing and that the tooling because there's a I think it's cognitive load, every single layer you add on that you may have to make a decision about is now a little micro load that you're adding to your thinking. You have to think about every time you're Oh, do I, should I use the other color? Should I use the other brush? Like No, I got three brushes, pick one.
Dan Wahlin 40:40
Go. Let's go. I'm just working on shapes at this point. Yeah. So yeah. Yeah, I'm just working on shapes at this point. So colors a whole nother level, it sounds like.
Ward Bell 40:52
So john, one of the things I like about AG Grid, which is a data grid component for the kind of complex grid scenarios that we encounter all the time in enterprise apps, one of the things I really like about it is that it works for a variety of frameworks, angular react view, or, or just vanilla j. s,
John Papa 41:13
Does that ring a bell for you? Oh, it really does. There's all these different companies that I work with, where they have no choice. But to use a lot of these different tools, they have different teams working on them. So being able to port our code or share that code, that technical investment they have is really important to them.
Ward Bell 41:29
So it's important to us, I do believe we're a consulting company. And I, you know, we never know what our clients going to want to use Angular react view, but they're all going to need a grid. And it's great to be able to reach for the one grid that works everywhere, AG Grid,
John Papa 41:43
you know, at any size company, too, because you could have these teams that maybe they only use one framework, but eventually they're going to switch to another one and be able to take that investment again, and use it reuse it is really nice.
Ward Bell 41:53
So if a multi framework, data grid makes sense to you, please go check out AG Grid at ag-grid.com.
John Papa 42:04
And I want to get to color it's actually on my list of topics here. But before we get to color, and let's you mentioned the feel on paper, like on the iPad, but if somebody wants to get started, let's just start simple. What kind of paper do you recommend that they grab? And what kind of pen or pencil do you recommend,
Mike Rohde 42:23
I recommend a ream of paper from your printer. And I recommend Paper Mate flares from Target. That's it. When I teach workshops, that's all I bring nothing else, my iPad, a plug to go into the TV so I can show what I'm drawing a ream of paper and a box full of flares. And I you know, to Dan's point, going black and white is really great. Again, it's a constraint, like, maybe you need to focus more on staying black and white before you can go to color because you can, you can take Skillshare courses on color theory and how to apply it, that's a learned skill. But until you feel really good about your black and white stuff, color is just again, a cognitive load that, you know, I got to think about is that green or blue, or, you know, maybe you if you decide like your next step after black and white is, I got a black flare, and a green flare out for this and I'm gonna try that next time, I'm gonna do black flare and an orange flare, right, you sort of limit yourself to two, and sort of build up from there. And I think that I just really am a big believer in constraints. I mean, this is where all this came from was constraining myself, small book and a pen, I gotta go sit in this room and capture something valuable, and force myself not to write everything down, right. So really good things come out of constraints, for sure.
John Papa 43:37
You know, I dropped some notes into the show notes about layout, because you talked about radio and smother so people can learn more about some of the ideas of layouts that are also in your books there. But you just brought up how you when you're going to go to an event, you got to bring this small book of paper, and you need to be portable enough, which means you small enough to fit in whatever you're carrying, whether it's your pocket or your briefcase or whatever. But you also need it to be big enough to actually capture the ideas. So what do you do if you're like I'm holding up a field notes, which is I don't know what it is, like three
Mike Rohde 44:10
by five inches, something
John Papa 44:12
like that. I'm sorry, this this fits in my back pocket. There's mold skins, which are slightly larger, there's eight and a half by 11, eight nines. What What do you do if you run out of space? And how do you kind of make sure you you capture the right ideas? And eventually I certainly do run out
Ward Bell 44:31
turn the page john
Dan Wahlin 44:33
could answer turn the page.
Mike Rohde 44:35
Yeah. So let's let's go to there's a bunch of questions. Really good questions in there. First is media size. I started in a pocket book because because that was what was on my desk. And I you know, for a couple of years I did that and then there was a point where I felt like I needed a little more breathing room. I wanted some more whitespace I wanted to put a little more on the page. So I went to the a five size which is roughly five by eight and that feels like Five by eight feels like a pretty good size, balance. So I always look for balance things, it's small enough to transport. But it's big enough, when you spread it all the way open, it's roughly the size of it a novelette by 11 sheet if you use the full two page spread. And I think that's a really good starting point, if you're going to go to some kind of a notebook, it's not so big that you feel overwhelmed by this giant white sheet. And it's not so small, that you keep running out of space. So that may be a good place. And then you can decide from there like, you know, I really need more space, let's go bigger, or I want to, you know, my purpose or my uses, I want it to be superduper portable, like, I could put it on my pocket, then maybe you go to field notes size. And then maybe you've got multiples, right? So I have an a five that I use for sketchnoting things and then I have a pocket, barren fig is the brand, they have this little tiny pocket confident. Like, when I choose to travel, I don't travel anymore, I would stick it in my back pocket and go to restaurants and I would sketch the dinner we had or I could sketch anything that I was experiencing. And it was like superduper portable, kind of like a like a, you know, a field notes. Right? So that's that would be tools right? perspective. And then I think you talked about layout, like how do you make stuff fit, that's a big challenge, I would say if you're just starting out, maybe the first layout that you would use would be what I call linear, which is basically the way a book works left page, right page, top left corner, bottom right corner, you know, traditional. And the reason I like that, and I use it for myself as a default is because I don't have to think about it. It's like every book I've ever read. Now somebody in Israel or you know, in another place, that might be the opposite, right? It's going a different direction. But for us in the West, it's it's so known that you don't have to think about it, it just sort of flows. And then specifically, when you feel like I'm running out of space, obviously you can turn the page, that's one thing, one way you can sort of do this is if you know, let's say, let's say you're going to go to a talk, that's an hour and you serve a reserve maybe a top portion for the title of the person speaking, then you can actually like mentally divide that notebook, let's say you're using an a file with, you know, two pages, you're gonna use the whole two pages. And that is to split it into quarters, like a line across the middle and say there's four quarters in the book. And each one is worth about 15 minutes. So 15 minutes of content should fit in that space. And sometimes it'll move over, but it gives you like, you can go into it with some kind of a guideline of about how much like a gauge how much should I be filling it about 15 minutes in half an hour. And I should be done with page one. You know, I should be done with the top of page two, close to the end. And then I've got the space that I can use to sort of sum up the ideas. And then the converse is what if I end up with too much like a chunk of space at the bottom. And the thing I recommend there is to maybe sit back and reflect afterwards, after you've captured the live stuff, reflect on what it means and what are the connections you're making. And then use that last little chunk for your own observations and connections, and fill it in with that. So those are some ways that you can address either running out of space, or having too much space.
Craig Shoemaker 48:13
We've talked about a lot. And some of the words that we've used might be a little scary for people constraints, practice drawing our circle for the analytical for Dan, of course. I want to talk Have you talk a little bit about like the ultimate value that you have found and other people have found? Is it that you feel like you're digesting everything more in the moment? Is it that it's easier for you to go back and revisit where you're at in that moment? Is it sharing? Is it all the above? What will people ultimately get out of it? If they put that practice in?
Mike Rohde 48:49
I think all those things are true. And I think you have to decide which is most important, I think there have been studies done in, in the recall, I guess you would call it of capturing this information and processing it. So like if you really into this thing, you're listening and you're processing and you're analyzing and you're putting it on the page. When you go back and see those notes, it's gonna bring back way more than someone else. Like if I did notes, and Craig, you looked at them, you might not pick up all the nuances or the things I was thinking about. But for me, when I go back, it unlocks a whole lot more, right? So there's, there's like a meta level of something that's underneath those notes. That means something more to me. Right. So that's, you know, recall and under, you're also understanding, I think you're also honoring the speaker, if it's a speaker by being super engaged, and you can even bring your notes up afterwards and say, Hey, you had a really interesting point is that I get this right and sort of talk through it, right. So that can be a way of honoring. And then you can share, like as an example. You know, if you are doing a course let's say and you learn some things and you sketchnote this, it's not really shareable so you could share it with your team. So if you're designated as your The one who's going to learn about this technology or this concept, and you use sketch notes to capture your thinking, it's, it's much easier to share it and, and make that available to somebody else. And I think the last thing is, if you get into it, it's like any process like, it's kind of weird, like sometimes the other day I was, I had snow that got packed down in my driveway, because I didn't get it in time. And so I was out there with an ice pick, and I was like, scooping it up. And I really enjoyed, like, the feel of the hard pack snow, like popping up like little chunks, and flying over to the side of the driveway, I just, I just enjoyed the process. And I think that's, that's something interesting, too, that we often forget is there's kind of a joy in just the doing of it, and the experiencing of it. And being in the moment that I think sometimes so much social media and the things that we look at, we just become, you know, observers of things, we're not actively involved in them. And this is something that we can do with our hands that involves our whole body, our mind. And it can be really fun after you get into it. And you practice it to be just a fun experience that you do. And you know that you're going to get this benefit, which is the output at the end. And so it's got all those things sort of blended in there together.
John Papa 51:10
Are these a tool for conversation starters is my hearing, like you mentioned, you know, going up to the conference speaker at the end and showing them the notes say that I kept this right. But I imagine you could also use your notes to share with people you're at work, that you're trying to convey ideas and maybe spark new. Is that something you've used sketchnoting for?
Mike Rohde 51:34
Yeah, I think it can be really useful that way. I know, I've spoken to so many people when I sketch note, in a conference room, where I'm sitting there doing it, though, afterwards, like, oh, let me see the notes that you took. And that's really cool. And it can open up like if I just want to meet people and talk to them, it just sort of naturally makes that happen. It does. Like you said, I can go up to the speaker and verify something or sometimes you can, you know, go up and hey, can we take a picture together? Is it okay? If I send you a copy of my notes? I was really listening intently. And I think your talk was great. I'd love to share these with you.
John Papa 52:07
I imagine nobody's ever said no. I'd hate to see your notes. Wow, how dare you write notes of what I spoke on?
Mike Rohde 52:13
Yeah, exactly. Yeah, most people are just listening and walking away. And, you know, 80% is floating out of their heads as they walk out. Right. So I think there is opportunity to do that. And I think you talked about teaching. So what you might, the real practical application might be you're doing sketch notes for yourself to understand the concept. And then maybe use those sketch notes to maybe do, maybe you do a drawing on your iPad Pro now, where you take a specific thing, and you draw that and then you stick it in a PowerPoint. So now it's hand drawn, it's got your human, there's something about the human element of it, too, I think that it sort of breaks away from, you know, Helvetica on PowerPoint slides, which, you know, I love Helvetica, and I use PowerPoint all day. And there's creative ways to sort of make it do what you want to do. And I think this is one way is to bring in hand drawn imagery, even if it's imperfect, like it's really, it's sort of welcoming, and it's sort of inviting, in some ways, I think it can be, so they can definitely be a way that you can approach sharing,
Ward Bell 53:14
I was just going to joke and say, That's why I use Comic Sans. But not so I'll tell you, though, you know, I look at when you start this is, I look at your stuff. And I Well, one of the things I realized that in a lot of conferences, there's there's these abstract concepts, I understand, you know, stick Part A and Part B, I can draw that kind of, but um, it's like, you know, it, you know, indecision. You, this is a snap from one of your, your things there and, and you said, Okay, let's draw indecision. And I go, oh, clean code uh
And I say, I don't know, I would just draw a question mark. And then, you know, you say, Well, you know, maybe I'll draw two heads, and then I do this and that they're fighting. You know, they got it. And it's like, how did he think of that? And all I can think of is, man, he must be great at Pictionary. But But
John Papa 54:16
you're on my team.
Ward Bell 54:18
Well yeah, he's definitely on my team for Pictionary. So what, but is this does not actually come naturally? Or did you work to get to this stage? And what do you do at a conference talk where the idea you're trying to draw is abstract. What do you do? Well, I,
Mike Rohde 54:34
the first thing I can tell you is we plan those ideas beforehand before we shot the video. So I knew what I was going to do. But I started to come up with the idea, right? So I mean, there was some working involved to
Ward Bell 54:46
wait a minute, you're telling me that you did. You didn't do that on the spur of the moment. I mean, I was looking at this, I saw overload and suddenly this beautiful thing is appearing and I'm saying, I'll never be that guy.
Mike Rohde 54:59
Well, now you're safe. You know, I'm not that guy either. So I'm okay. All right. So the way you're
John Papa 55:04
feeling a little bit of my thunder for my my final thought, and I'll drop it down here and see, see if this is helpful to anybody too is I struggle with this all the time. And what I actually do is I go to Google, I type in indecision and the word icon. And then I click over on the image tab of Google results, and I look for something that might make sense that I could actually draw, because I can't come up with this stuff, either. Yeah. I'm sure people have icons in their head. But it's, I'm in the same place as Warren. I'm like, Oh, my gosh, how would you draw? That?
Ward Bell 55:40
Yeah, there's definitely some really function over configuration quit, like convention over configuration, draw it?
Mike Rohde 55:46
I don't know.
John Papa 55:47
Kubernetes Kubernetes? Go.
Craig Shoemaker 55:49
Go for it.
Dan Wahlin 55:50
Like that's isn't that? Uh, oh, that one, that one's easy. You just draw,
Mike Rohde 55:55
or something like that, or whatever they got it from?
I'd sort of think in metaphors. I've trained myself to think in metaphors. So I'm always relating to what they're describing, in relation to something in the real world, or some experience or some similar thing. I think that can help you. But it's also again, it's a practice and train thing. I have a friend His name is Dr. Dario paniagua. And he teaches a metaphors class, that might be really helpful in the thing that I think is really interesting about Daria, when he talks about is to not do like, the thing that you would expect, but to do weird things, right? Like, I can't even think of a word that we would think of, but it's like, take that thing. And the normal thing you could think of and like, push it, like, do different things like, and I think I've always sort of approached as if I can use humor, in my metaphor that really works because it's super memorable. And it sort of gives me a lot of latitude to, like, do crazy stuff, to communicate ideas. So I think you're just sort of getting it metaphors. And there are definitely some they're really tough. Like, I would probably struggle in some cases, let's say a technical talk where maybe my, my knowledge isn't deep. That might be a thing. If I was hired to do that, let's say, I would probably like if I was doing a talk on Kubernetes, I would have to learn like, what is Kubernetes? What's the structure? Like? What Why would you use it? Where is it, apply it like all those things I would learn before I got to the event, if I didn't know those things, and I would try to understand them in context for other software that I've used or concepts that maybe makes sense to explain it. And again, metaphors sometimes break down, so they don't always extend fully. So you've got to assume that maybe they'll break down and maybe, maybe there is no good drawing for that concept. Maybe just need to write the word. Right. So
Ward Bell 57:48
I think Kubernetes qualifies as the
Mike Rohde 57:50
Ward Bell 57:52
Just write the
John Papa 57:55
Greek sailor quick, Dan. But but
Dan Wahlin 58:00
I'll just, I'll just draw a boat, a boat that works. So
Ward Bell 58:03
I was thinking, you know, we're developers out there. And we think, well, we just write code. But I think the thing that we forget that we all have to do, no matter where we are in an organization, is we have to sell our idea. We have to get somebody to let us do what we want to do. That's what I mean by sell it. And too often, I see presentation, that means we got to present it, I see all these bullet points and things like that. And I'm thinking that for any of you who are listening out there, and you're you're fighting to figure out how you can get somebody to do what you want to do.
this could open up possibilities for you. So I'm really intrigued Mike, I mean, I I've watched john do it, you know, and he drives me crazy, because he's good at it. But and I hate it when he's good at something. But, but but, you know, I, I'm getting the I'm getting the feeling. I don't know about the rest of you guys. But anyway, thanks. Thanks for this.
Mike Rohde 59:13
Yeah, I think one thing I'll say is, if you feel unsure about this, like, there's sort of a built in almost implication that if you do sketchnoting, you have to share it with the world. Like I don't think that's true. I think there's nothing wrong with doing sketchnoting for yourself that nobody ever sees. But you thank you for saying, Yeah, I think that's really important. And because I think, you know, once you start sharing it online, there's a whole like, performance component that gets in there and likes and like, it's not about communicating. It's like how many people liked it as though it went from 35 to 37. That's, quote unquote, good, like, Well, you know, it was just somebody accidentally hit your thing and you got two more, you know, whatever. So I think doing it for yourself, isn't I'll give you two examples of where I find it really useful. In a really boring setting. So number one, I switched to a MacBook Pro a couple of years ago. And one of the challenges of the MacBook Pro, it's all USBC ports, and I had all USB a ports. It's like, Alright, well, I, I'm going to bite the bullet because I needed a computer and, and so on. So what I did is actually before I purchased the, the book, the MacBook, I sat down with a piece of paper, and I drew it up a MacBook in the middle, I got four ports, USB C ports, what do I need to connect to it? Well, I need a screen. Okay, so I need a, I do that cable, I need to connect the keyboard, well, I don't need a cable anymore. Because I can get a I can get a you know, something? Bluetooth. So I do that. And I just basically drew out all this stuff like that I use and realize like, Oh, I need four USBC cables have this kind of went on Amazon and I put them all in my cart, and I ordered them. And then I ordered all the parts. And now you know, I've got all the parts that I need. But I think it was really helpful for me to visualize, like, what was the challenge I'm facing? And how do I address it. And it it's a pretty ugly sketch note. I mean, it did it with a really thick marker. And you can see it on my blog somewhere, if you go there. And I sort of wrote an article about the value of sketchnoting. Just to solve problems like an even if you draw it on a piece of you know, printer paper and crumple it up and recycle it. As long as it gets you to the next stage. It's good enough, right. So that would be one example. In the context of software development, I can tell you another story, which is, for about three years, I worked in a financial services company, and the team that I was on there about 50 people, and one little designer me. And they were charged with taking out an old Windows based application, I think it's like, probably 195, or it was pretty ancient. And they wanted to make it into a web based tool for lots of reasons, which everybody listening would probably understand like, update ability, controlling, you know, the versioning, and all that kind of stuff. But it also could be used in all kinds of devices, right, not just a certain laptop using Windows, right. So. So we were charged with this, there was an existing tool, and it was powerful in some ways and limited and others. And we in our culture, we decided that we wanted to work collaboratively. And I recommended that we do drawings, that I would be the draw for the sketch noter. So we our culture was on Mondays, we spent the whole day drawing, and there were I think three or four teams that would come at different times of the day, we would queue up features that they were working on. So like whatever the product manager was sort of queuing up, and they would describe it, they might show it in the old application, we would all kind of okay, we get it. And then All right, let's get some ideas. How can we solve this problem. And as people were talking, I was doing my sketchnoting thing, but I was doing on a big, wall sized whiteboard, where I was drawing like, okay, we're gonna have a window pop out, and it's gonna do this, and I'm trying this stuff. And I'm keeping it in my head, and I'm annotating it with another color on the whiteboard marker, on the whiteboard, and just listening to what people are saying. And the reason I did that was I knew that I was going to be a bottleneck, it's me against 50 developers and product owners. And, you know, I can only make so many mock ups so fast, right? So I had to give some, some agency to developers to move forward. And as we got into this rhythm of following this culture, there was a new guy that joined the team. And he was watching he was I was doing something he was talking about. And obviously, I'm covering it, because I'm drawing it. So I turned back and I said, Is that what you mean? And he's like, Oh, my gosh, how did you draw what I was thinking. And it's just that I'd practice this listening technique. And sort of I could, I could visualize in my head as he was speaking what he was talking about, and I would just drew down the board. And it made it, it made it really accessible. They saw their ideas being captured, so it was being honored. A lot of times, developers would get excited and run up there and let me have the marker and they would draw their idea. And we would often use those ideas, because the developers knew far better than me, what the technology could do, how far it could be pushed what oh, this little component I could use to do that. Right? They're thinking that way. I'm much more of a generalist, and I can't know all this detail. So really had to work as a team. And then you have the business people there to saying, well, it's got to do these things. You know, it's you guys are getting off on some detail. Imagine
John Papa 1:04:19
that that's where the business people can see the visuals and actually relate because sometimes there's that disconnect between a developer technical session, and the business stakeholders where you're, you're saying the same thing, hopefully. But the communication is like speaking different languages, right? Like Greek and Arabic. You're like, what's going on? I can't get you here. And then maybe the visuals are a way to connect those two dots for That's exactly right. I
Mike Rohde 1:04:43
call it I think it's called the illusion of agreement. It's where you're having a discussion about a topic and you both have ideas in your head, but you actually really don't agree because you're thinking slightly differently about it. So by externalizing it by putting it on the whiteboard and seeing what you're saying, like Oh crap, that's a terrible idea. We can't do We have to do this other thing or That's awesome. What about this? What about this other thing? And so that was the, the, the culture we built. And the The interesting thing about it was, I just felt like the developers got excited for Mondays. Because they knew they were going to do this whiteboarding, they would their ideas were being captured. What we do at the end of the session was take a photograph, and we'd throw it in a shared SharePoint folder. So if they got to the feature before I could do the mock up, they would just pull the whiteboard. And we would have I would have annotated it, we would have circled the winner. And then they would just start building it. And then we'd call me over when they were ready and say, Hey, Mike, I took that sketch we had last Monday, and I built it out because I'm working on it. As I was building it, I realized we had this thing I didn't think about at the time. So I did this thing. What do you think? And so it sort of freed up the rest of the team to move forward without waiting, sitting around waiting for me doing mock ups all the time. But I think the other thing that was it, really, it engaged the whole team. And that when you looked at a feature, you could say, well, who designed that features? Like we all did, we all had a part in that we were all there, like I can't pinpoint exactly who came up with those, all those ideas. And that was pretty cool.
John Papa 1:06:12
I think these are great, great lessons for everybody out there to think about. And I really want to hammer home to everybody. Some things that you said today, which I think should stick out to everybody is you don't need to have artistic ability. And in some ways, it might might actually constrain or block you from being productive with sketchnoting if you try to go too far. And then also you'd mentioned I never heard anybody say this before, but it's so rang true thanks, by jumped up and said something, which is you don't have to share your sketch notes. If you'd write something and you're doing it for you, you don't have to worry about that. Because there is that, you know, we're in this socialist socialization word. And with Twitter and other things there, it feels like you have to share it, and then you're going to get judged by what you've done. You don't have to. And I think that's really good lesson for folks out there. Mike, I really appreciate you coming on today and sharing all this with us, there's so much more we can tap your brain on. And I know you've got a lot of this stuff that you talked about inside your books. And in your workshops, which you've got some YouTube links and workshops you've done. And I dropped a bunch of the links in the show notes. We'll get some after the show as well for Mike to share with folks. You'll find them on my blog post and on the show notes page, or web rush the podcast. But I want to thank you for coming today. And from all of our listeners out there. You know, just thank you so much for sharing this really interesting knowledge.
Mike Rohde 1:07:35
Well, thanks for having me, it's really fun to you can tell I get excited about this stuff. Because I just see that everyone has some level of capability and it makes their lives a little bit better. So why How can I not share it and why? How can I not be excited when people get it and see application? So thank you for giving me the opportunity to share that with a few more people.
John Papa 1:07:55
Thank you so much. And thank you for having a Star Wars poster in the background because Ward Bell our co host is the world's biggest Star Wars fan right word,
Ward Bell 1:08:05
the biggest star wars hater on the planet. That's my that's my favorite thing. badge. That's
Mike Rohde 1:08:12
a badge of bugaboo, your bugaboo.
Ward Bell 1:08:15
I I love to I love to hate on Star Wars, it
Dan Wahlin 1:08:18
says we still hang out. So
John Papa 1:08:21
it's kind of
Ward Bell 1:08:23
Mike Rohde 1:08:24
Well, you know, that was the first movie I ever saw with my dad in a theater. So it has more meaning than simply the movie. Yeah.
John Papa 1:08:32
I'm with you. Same for me. I was five years old. So have those memories. And Hey, everybody, thanks for listening to yet another week of web rush the podcast you'll hear from us every Thursday morning. See you next time.