Design Like Da Vinci: Collaboration Secrets from Da Vinci's Sketchbooks

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Leonardo Da Vinci produced over 13,000 pages in his sketchbooks, which are his greatest legacy. Within his sketchbooks, you can find examples of Da Vinci collaborating with other artists, doctors, and soldiers. Several patterns emerge.

Over the past few years, I have created some Davincian principles that I use in Design Studios and UX Critiques. By using these guidelines, you can design like Da Vinci. Your collaboration will be more effective. Your product teams will have more consensus.

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Design Like Da Vinci: Collaboration Secrets from Da Vinci's Sketchbooks

  1. 1. “Beyond this place there be dragons.”
  2. 2. In Istanbul (1502)…
  3. 3. A Strange Request is Made
  4. 4. Golden Horn Bridge Sketch
  5. 5. Da Vinci Details the Design
  6. 6. Da Vinci’s Bridge to Nowhere
  7. 7. In 1991, It’s Built in Norway
  8. 8. Why Da Vinci?
  9. 9. Brian Sullivan. @BrianKSullivan @bigdesign Hi, my name is #davinci
  10. 10. My Friends and I run the Big Design Conference.
  11. 11. Top 10 Thinkers of All-Time 1. Leonardo Da Vinci 2. William Shakespeare 3. The Pyramid Builders 4. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 5. Michelangelo 6. Sir Isaac Newton 7. Thomas Jefferson 8. Alexander the Great 9. Phidias 10. Albert Einstein source: Tony Buzan’s Book of Genius (1994)
  12. 12. 7 Steps to Everyday Genius 1. Be curious. You should be constantly learning. 2. Test knowledge. Learn from your mistakes. 3. Improve your own experience. Make it multi-sensory. 4. Embrace ambiguity, paradox, and uncertainty. 5. Whole-brain thinking (science/art, logic/emotion). 6. Know the physical world (grace, dexterity, fitness). 7. Use system-thinking. See interconnections. Every designer should have these characteristics (and every problem-solver).
  13. 13. • Content
  14. 14. UX Sketch Books Published
  15. 15. UX Sketch Paper Created • A3 and A4 Sketching Paper • Four Dots Per Inch A4 Paper • iPhone Wireframe Sheets • Android Application Sheets • 4 Cell Storyboard Paper • ZURB Sketch Sheets • 6-UP Sketch Sheets
  16. 16. Sketch Software Released • Sketch Flow • Basalmiq
  17. 17. UX Sketching: Design Studio • Participants produce several sketches. • Discuss and critique, then re-sketch. • Merge ideas into one design concept.
  18. 18. Generate, Refine...Repeat You use the creative and evaluate sides of your brain in Design Studios.
  19. 19. Can Da Vinci Apply to UX?
  20. 20. Da Vinci’s True Legacy
  21. 21. The Last Supper (1495-98)
  22. 22. Mona Lisa (1503-05)
  23. 23. Only 30 Finished Paintings
  24. 24. Sketches: Greatest Legacy
  25. 25. He Was a Prolific Sketcher 13,000 pages
  26. 26. 13,000 Pages Equates To… Harry Potter Series + Chronicles of Narnia + Lord of the Rings Trilogy + Hunger Games Trilogy + Game of Thrones Series + 9/11 Commission Report + NIV Bible Total Pages 4,100 768 1,011 1,155 4,197 1,181 585 12,997
  27. 27. 6,000 Storyboards for Brave Source: Mashable (2012)
  28. 28. Under a Painting is a Sketch
  29. 29. Lots of Sketches Per Page • Vitruvian Man = 2 • Shoulders = 7 • Flowers = 20 • Spike Ladder = 7 • Glider = 8 • Tank = 3 He might be the most prolific sketcher ever.
  30. 30. 5 Sketching Secrets
  31. 31. Da Vinci’s Sketching Method 1. Sketch by hand on sheets of paper. 2. Do initial sketches alone. 3. Review with others, later. 4. Use annotations, arrows, and labels. 5. Save and re-visit earlier sketches.
  32. 32. 1. Use Separate Pages Codex Atlanticus (over 1,000 individual sketches)
  33. 33. No iPad
  34. 34. No Field Notes/Moleskine Bound pages are too constraining.
  35. 35. Separate Pages
  36. 36. Leonardo Lessons: Sketch by Hand: 1. No constraints. 2. Quick and cheap. 3. No special skills. On Separate Pages: 1. Portable. 2. Re-organized. 3. Grouped.
  37. 37. 2. Do Initial Sketches Alone Da Vinci dissected 10 cadavers for his over 750 sketches on human anatomy.
  38. 38. Da Vinci Sketched Alone He would initially sketch alone. Then, a doctor reviewed for technical accuracy.
  39. 39. “Cause of a Sweet Death” Da Vinci asked an old man if he could dissect him when he died. The old man accepted. Leonardo held the old man when he died. He started dissecting within a few minutes.
  40. 40. Two Artists, Same Interest Da Vinci and Michaelangelo dissected human cadavers—socially repugnant.
  41. 41. Sketch Alone
  42. 42. Leonardo Lessons: Sketch Alone: 1. No distractions. 2. Generate faster. 3. Incubate time. 4. Reflect, inspire. 5. Breathing room. 6. Avoid group think.
  43. 43. 3. Review with Others Marcontonio della Torre reviewed the human anatomy sketches for accuracy.
  44. 44. Reviewed by Generals Da Vinci reviewed sketches of weapons with generals and soldiers.
  45. 45. Review Together
  46. 46. Leonardo Lessons: Review Together: 1. Need expertise. 2. Collaboration. 3. Validation. 4. Accuracy. 5. Consensus.
  47. 47. 4. Annotate, Arrows, Labels Da Vinci’s sketches were wireframes: pictures with words, arrows, and labels.
  48. 48. Dissecting a Da Vinci Sketch 1. Picture in center. 2. Label on top. 3. Annotate on side. 4. Arrows point to key content.
  49. 49. Wireframe are the Same 1. Picture in center. 2. Label on top. 3. Annotate on side. 4. Arrows point to key content. Yes, a picture is worth a 1,000 words. Words with pictures equals clarity.
  50. 50. Leonardo Lessons: Sketches Need: 1. Picture 2. Description 3. Arrows 4. Annotations 5. Labels
  51. 51. 5. Save and Re-visit Later Some scholars think Da Vinci used an early form of the Cornell Method.
  52. 52. Da Vinci’s Shortcuts Main content area Questions and Keywords Summary Information
  53. 53. Reorganized Sketches Codex Atlanticus (over 1,000 individual sketches)
  54. 54. Grouped Weapon Sketches Da Vinci drew these sketches at different times, but they are grouped together.
  55. 55. Grouped Anatomy Sketches Marcontonio della Torre wanted to publish this work, but he died of the Black Death.
  56. 56. Technology Helps Us Group Evernote Fireworks Flickr Facebook
  57. 57. Revisit Later
  58. 58. Leonardo Lessons: Store & Re-visit: 1. Don’t throw out. 2. Store for later. 3. Cluster together. 4. Make findable. 5. Revisit later.
  59. 59. Generating Ideas
  60. 60. 1. Strive for Quantity 2. Defer Judgment 3. Seek New Combinations 4. Use Your Imagination
  61. 61. 1. Strive for Quantity Vitruvian Man is an iconic sketch of human potential. The Greek scholar, Vitruvius, said a man’s body could fit inside a circle and a square.
  62. 62. 750 Anatomy Sketches
  63. 63. Three Masterpieces Innovation scholars predict that it takes 3,000 raw ideas for 1 successful idea. • 13,000 sketches = 3 Masterpieces • 750 anatomy sketches = Vitruvian Man
  64. 64. Leonardo Lessons: 1. Quantity Leads to Quality. 2. 13,000 sketches led to 3 classic masterpieces.
  65. 65. 2. Defer Judgment “It is easier to resist in the beginning than at the end.” - Da Vinci Defer positive and negative judgment.
  66. 66. Sketch of The Last Supper
  67. 67. Jesus and Judas Problems
  68. 68. Two Years Later…
  69. 69. KILLER SPECTACULAR SUPER AWESOME EXCELLENT NEAT YES COOL SWEET WOWBEST #1
  70. 70. NIX IT! DENIED REJECT IT SUCKS!!! PAINFUL NOPE NO BLOWS WEAK UGLYBAD #2
  71. 71. Leonardo Lessons: 1. Positive judgment shuts you down. 2. Negative judgment shuts you down. 3. Your own judgment blocks you, too. 4. Your sketch is a draft to re-visit.
  72. 72. 3. New Combinations Da Vinci had a pet dragon.
  73. 73. Leonardo’s Pet Dragon • Da Vinci created a pet dragon by gluing other animal parts to a lizard. • He added fish scales. • He gave it a bat ears. • He painted the lizard. • He added wings that flapped when it walked.
  74. 74. • Da Vinci always looked to put things to another use.
  75. 75. The First Automobile • Using the existing tools of his day, he made the/ the first automobile. • Steering columns. • Rack and pinions. • Wheels. • Cranks. • Springs.
  76. 76. Leonardo Lessons: 1. New combinations from existing parts. 2. Put old things to a new uses. 3. Take an element and make it bigger or smaller.
  77. 77. 4. Use Your Imagination “Why does the eye see a thing more clearly in dreams than the imagination when awake?” - Da Vinci
  78. 78. Common Response Zone
  79. 79. Da Vinci’s Flying Machines
  80. 80. Successful Glider Test In 2006, scientists flew a Da Vinci Glider, using available material from his time.
  81. 81. Leonardo Lessons: 1. Avoid the common response zone. 2. More ideas force you to use your imagination. 3. Let ideas incubate. Re-visit with a new perspective.
  82. 82. 1. Strive for Quantity 2. Defer Judgment 3. Seek New Combinations 4. Use Your Imagination
  83. 83. Refining Ideas
  84. 84. 1. Use Positive Judgment 2. Consider Novelty 3. Stay Focused 4. Redirect Yourself
  85. 85. 1. Use Positive Judgment “The greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions.” - Da Vinci
  86. 86. 65,000 thoughts per day. 65% are negative, roughly 42,000.
  87. 87. He Struggled Personally
  88. 88. NIX IT! DENIED REJECT IT SUCKS!!!PAINFUL NOPE NO BLOWS WEAK UGLYBAD #2
  89. 89. Leonardo Lessons: 1. Use positive judgment first. 2. Explore for value and benefit. 3. Avoid the natural tendency to think initially negative.
  90. 90. 2. Consider Novelty “There are three classes of people: those who see, those who see when they are shown, those who do not see.” - Da Vinci
  91. 91. The City of Venice called one of Da Vinci’s inventions “impractical”.
  92. 92. Pope Leo X Bans Autopsies Da Vinci’s dissections of cadavers was seen as disgusting. It was outlawed by the Pope.
  93. 93. Sultan Rejected His Bridge “Swoop and poop! The executive seagull maneuver.” - Jared Spool
  94. 94. Leonardo Lesson: 1. Don’t dismiss novel ideas immediately. 2. Novel ideas might lead to innovations. 3. Many of Leonardo’s ideas were rejected. 4. Your idea may be ahead of its time.
  95. 95. 3. Stay Focused “As every divided kingdom falls, so every mind divided between many studies confounds and saps itself.” - Da Vinci
  96. 96. Perfectionist & Procrastinator
  97. 97. You will lose focus from time to time. Take a break. Go for a walk. Re-focus. Break BreakLunch
  98. 98. The Da Vinci Dilemma Too many talents, not enough time. • Mathematician • Scientist • Anatomist • Military Strategist • Civil Engineer • Artist • Sketcher
  99. 99. “I have offended God and mankind because my work didn't reach the quality it should have.” - Da Vinci A Death Bed Confession
  100. 100. Leonardo Lessons: 1. Stay focused on what’s important. 2. Take breaks or walks to re-focus. 3. Focus on one thing at a time. 4. Don’t procrastinate. 5. Perfectionism kills productivity.
  101. 101. 4. Redirect Yourself
  102. 102. Cesar Borgia, Short Bio • Son of a Pope • Cardinal by age 17 • Killed his brother • Dictator in his land • Survived poisoning • Killed many followers • Died in war • Patron of Da Vinci for a short time
  103. 103. Machiavelli, Short Bio • Politician for 14 years • Head of Florence militia • Wrote The Prince • “Ends justify the means.” • “Better to be feared than loved.” • “Too much freedom can lead to the soul's decay.”
  104. 104. Borgia: Machiavelli’s Prince
  105. 105. Da Vinci Caught in Middle
  106. 106. Suffered Severe Trauma Da Vinci had "a profound psychological change . . . as a result of his terrifying experiences“ with Borgia. source: Paul Strathern (2010)
  107. 107. Da Vinci Built Maps
  108. 108. Improved Borgia’s Fortress It had rounded walls to counter the direct impact of a cannonball. Interior walls led to fortified positions.
  109. 109. Designed a Movable Bridge
  110. 110. Da Vinci’s “Grotesque Error” Imagine what Borgia would done with: • Glider • Crossbow • Tank • Cluster Bomb • Machine Gun • Helicopter • Hand-crank catapult
  111. 111. Da Vinci Redirects His Work Da Vinci gives Borgia defensive items: • Map of Milan • Map of Imola • Hedometer • Movable Bridges • Improved Ladder • Fortress Redesign
  112. 112. Da Vinci Redirects His Work “I will not publish, nor divulge such things because of the evil nature of men.” - Da Vinci
  113. 113. Stores Them in a Codex Codex Atlanticus (most of his military sketches)
  114. 114. “I have wasted my hours.” Final words of Da Vinci
  115. 115. Leonardo Lessons: 1. You cannot avoid office politics. 2. Maintain your own values, to the end. 3. Design can be done under duress. 4. Re-direct yourself to positive things.
  116. 116. Final Thoughts
  117. 117. 5 Sketching Secrets 1. Sketch by hand. Use sheets of paper. 2. Do initial sketches alone. 3. Review with others, later. 4. Use annotations, arrows, and labels. 5. Save and re-visit earlier sketches.
  118. 118. • Content
  119. 119. 1. Strive for Quantity 2. Defer Judgment 3. Seek New Combinations 4. Use Your Imagination
  120. 120. 1. Use Positive Judgment 2. Consider Novelty 3. Stay Focused 4. Redirect Yourself
  121. 121. 1. Strive for Quantity 2. Defer Judgment 3. Seek New Combinations 4. Use Your Imagination 1. Use Positive Judgment 2. Consider Novelty 3. Stay Focused 4. Redirect Yourself

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