Design-thinking works … Even for geeks

Nancy Duarte

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Nancy Duarte

You wouldn’t think that a workshop with colored pens, scissors and tape would appeal to the engineering-types. Here’s how Leo Bley from SAP has implemented the sketching and thinking process into his presentation development:

I started with sticky pads, but they were sticky.  They were good for brainstorming on a wall with other people, but they didn’t travel well as a medium to store a draft presentation.
Sticky notes

Then, I fell “in like” with blank index cards.  They are easy to sort and they stack nicely when I’m not working on the draft.  A binder clip, plastic index card case, pencil, and eraser made for a complete mobile drafting kit.
Index cards used as mobile drafting kitIndex cards used as mobile drafting kit

This worked great, but I was still spending a lot of time trying to get the layout to look right after I got the draft into PowerPoint / Keynote.  So I took a blank card and folded it to have the same number of rows and columns as the grid in our corporate presentation template.  This helped with layouts, but it was tedious to transfer the grid to blank index cards.

Folded index card into grid pattern to represent the corporate presentation template

Then I remembered the idea in slide:ology to print out a blank corporate template slide as a handout (six slides per page), and use that as a drafting medium where it is easy to get the spacing right.  I combined that idea with the grid slide from our corporate template AND a stack of blank index cards…
1. Load my printer with a stack of index cards
2. Set the paper size to index card (5″ x 3″)
3. Printed copies of the grid slide from our corporate template

Gridlines for a slide template

Now I keep these grid index cards as my “blank” stock.  I load up my plastic index card case with “blank” grid cards, my rejected draft cards bound with a binder clip (which I may reference / reuse), the current draft, pencil, and eraser.  Sometimes I add in a few pens in our corporate colors to try accenting something on a slide.  I also keep a copy of our corporate color palette to simplify color selections when I finally transfer the draft into PowerPoint.

Blank grid cardsSeveral multi colored pens

Screenshot of values of colorsPens in a pencil case

When it comes time to review drafts with my boss in Germany, I scan the numbered cards from my current draft and send him a PDF.  He sends back a notes referencing the card numbers.

Numbered cards that Nancy sends to her boss in Germany for reviewMore Numbered cards that Nancy sends to her boss in Germany for review

Notes received from Nancy's bossMore Notes received from Nancy's boss

As a result, I:

  • Draft and design in a quick and easy medium
  • Draft with only a small, portable kit (no computer)… small footprint to free my mind
  • Easily adhere to the corporate grid
  • Confirm layout appeal on index cards (vs. wasting time in Powerpoint)
  • Scan, email, review with index cards…quick and easy

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