Florian Born
Marketing human at Carrot & Company.
Does content in his sleep. Other people just call it "dreaming" though.
5 Minutes

How Bad Drawings Help our Memory

5 Minutes
Article posted on November 22, 2019
How we keep track of our sprint goals? With bad drawings. They work better than good ones.

Every sprint, every two weeks, we set ourselves goals . Not only goals per person, but for the whole team. All our work in the current sprint focuses on these goals. Best case: We can reach them all. At least that's the idea. We only had one problem. During the two weeks half of the team forgot about the sprint goals.

We don't blame anyone. After all, everyone is busy with their own tasks and stories. It's enough to keep them in mind. From a project management perspective, however, we still had to change something. We wanted everyone to work in unison towards common goals . They bring the team closer together and prevent mistakes.

Pictures on the wall

We needed a way to remind everyone of our set goals. Our first idea: We print out illustrations and hang them on the office wall. For one thing, we see them differently, for another, people remember images as is known more easily than text.

Our design team quickly conjured up/searched several pictures and put them on the wall. We should see them every day. Be reminded every day.

Three illustrations of a bank note, a court hammer and a mythical creature. Illustrations like that hung on the wall.

At the end of the sprint we evaluated. The result was ... modest. We still couldn't remember the sprint goals. We had to find another solution. We did and since then we have a new ritual during sprint planning.

Bring the pens

At the end of the planning, before we get to work, we get a stack of post-it notes. Big ones, of course, otherwise you won't get anything on them. We all grab a pen and start drawing. We take a closer look at one target after the other and then have 30 seconds to capture it on paper.

When the timer runs out, we collect them and go on to the next goal. Until there are no more left. Every two weeks this leads to a sight like this:

Bad drawings with the goals on big post-it's on the table As we said: We're not artistic talents.

Then it's time to vote. Everyone gets a few red dots and chooses their favourite drawing for each goal. Not their own. But that should be clear. Of course this leads to some amusing conversations and laughter. But that shouldn't surprise anyone when it comes to our works of art.

But why?

But why do we do that? Why do we embarrass ourselves twice a month with our non-existent drawing skills? Simple: We humans remember things better when we draw them. Even better than when we write them down by hand.

Several studies have already confirmed this. This one and this one for example. The reason why is not completely clear yet, but the researchers in this field have a theory: When we draw something, not only one area of our brain is stimulated, that for language, but also the ones for vision and motor skills.

In addition, if we want to draw a concept, we actually have to deal with it. That's why the method works just as well for a banana as it does for complex technical topics.

But does it work?

This question remains open, of course. Do we remember our goals better than before? The honest answer: Yes. Maybe it has something to do with drawing. Maybe with the fact that we all have to think about the drawings.

But maybe it's also because the drawings are now hanging in the kitchen and we regularly have to talk about what exactly which drawing represents again. And yes, that also applies to the creations of the design team. But they usually have more than 30 seconds.

Four drawings of the Sprintgoals hang on a small board on the wall. In the kitchen, the targets are hanging out, clearly visible to everyone.

But the only important thing for us is that it works. We keep an eye on our sprint goals and work together towards the next milestones.

Can we help you keep an eye on your goals?

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