Sketch You Can! (Agile 2013)


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"This meeting is a waste of my time." When was the last time you had that thought? Was it because the conversation wasn't focused, or people couldn't agree, or maybe they were in violent agreement, but couldn't see it? How easily do you think you can get this meeting back on track? In this session, you will learn a skill that you can apply on the spot that will help you focus the conversation and drive to consensus. Everything you need is probably already in the room.

This technique is specifically for conversations around the features, functions, and behaviors of your product. Most people are visual thinkers, so give them something visual to focus on. You can do that by walking up to the whiteboard and drawing out what people are talking about. By visually capturing the conversation in a public way, you will help all participants understand each other and come to consensus faster. "But I can't draw," you say. Neither can I, and I’ve been successfully using this technique for over 15 years. If you can draw a straight-ish line and a box, you have all the drawing skills necessary.

In this engaging workshop, you will learn how to create a basic sketch of an interface using some simple sketching techniques and UX principles as well as practice thinking-on-your-feet that will help you comfortably do this with a group.

I have used this technique to help teams focus the conversation, visualize the requirements they were requesting, quickly experiment with new ideas, and provide detailed input that I can use to design the outcome. Often, the sketch (or a photo of it) acts as the deliverable for simple problems, eliminating the need for more formal wireframes. This technique is accessible to everyone. You don’t need any special software and anyone on the team can use it. Pick up the pen and get on track again.

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  • You’re in a meeting talking about a new product orfeatureThe business owner starts explaining the business caseOne person dives into a technical aspect of one of the featuresAnother wants to talk about the bigger pictureA third person is concerned about the implications for his project
  • Pretty soon, the meeting has devolved into a model of inefficiency
  • You walk up to the white board, pick up a marker and start writing.Slowly people start paying attention. One of the business owners comments on something you write and a lively conversation ensues.Now more people are paying attention. You’re starting to see some nods of agreement.
  • Next you move on to sketching, drawing some rough boxes and squiggly lines, “Like this?” you ask.More heads nod.You draw, erase, and draw some more. Eventually, there is a picture on the wall that kinda represents what people were talking about.
  • Now everyone seems to have finally alignedWhen people are walking out of the room, it feels, for the first time in a long time, that something got done.
  • Serving a group by writing and drawing their conversation live and large to help them do their work – Brandy Agerbeck. The graphic facilitator’s guideUsing visuals to help people come to agreementLarge conferencesRSA Animate talksVery impressive. We are going to look at two simple techniques available to everyone.
  • These two techniques require only a few basic skills and can significantly help guide conversations around software and web development
  • There are many techniques if you want to plan for collaborative sketching, such as design studio.What I’m going to talk about today requires no advance planning. You can use it anytime it seems as if a meeting is going off the rails.
  • In order to do this, you need three basic skills.
  • Not going to go into much depth here. Most of you probably have a pretty mature practice, and there are plenty of other workshops here to help you deepen it. I will touch on a few things that you may already know, but I want to put them in a sketching context.
  • Gives the conversation a focus (diversions become visible)Makes it feel real, formalizes the decisions
  • Makes people feel heard, ask before translatingPower of the Pensilence does not equal consentBody language can signal disagreement,
  • Screens, software or web
  • Working document, not a work of art
  • Don’t use these in meetings, this was just to get those mental juices flowing again.
  • Pair up with another person1 Person will sketch first, the other will drive as the stakeholder
  • Do a shipping page, then switch roles and do a billing page. 90 secsIf you have time, can do a confirmation.
  • If the thought of getting up and doing all of this with your team feels a bit scary,That’s ok.
  • Amy Cuddy poses affect not just perception,But also brain chemistryJust 2 minsGet small, “I’m a rock star”Get big, “I’m incompetent!”
  • If anyone is interested in a longer version of this session with more activities, let me know. If there is enough interest, I’ll put it together.
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