Thumbnail Sketching: a brainstorming method based on sketching
Sketching can help your team’s creative process. With the Thumbnail Sketching method, used in design thinking, teams can quickly turn out and develop a wide array of ideas, and discard those that don't fit the bill. Everyone expresses their ideas with a sketch to create and fine-tune the final concept. This visual management method is quite straightforward, since the sketches don’t necessarily need to be elaborate.
What is Thumbnail Sketching?
It’s a process by which team members sketch small thumbnail drawings. The purpose is for team members to immediately sketch their ideas on the thumbnails, without going into the details. Artists use this method to get a preview of what their artwork will look like before they actually start working on it. The aim is to draw sketches of each step, and to improve some aspects if necessary to achieve the overall picture. In design thinking, drawing boosts creativity and helps develop different ideas from those that a word-based brainstorming session might produce.
Why use this brainstorming method?
Although drawing as a communication tool is not common practice, it helps explore ideas, understand the project and tell stories. Thumbnail Sketching emphasizes creativity, rapidly converting ideas into images as the point is not to focus on the artistic quality of the drawings. Drawing, even rough sketches, improves creativity and is therefore a good way to ideate concepts and to implement design thinking. You sketch what goes through your mind, then by actually visualizing your idea, you (and other team members) may think of alternatives, draw them and so on and so forth.
The aim of this process is to explore a great number of different ideas, rather than focusing on the details of one particular aspect. Bear in mind that you’re not expected to be the next Picasso. Everyone can use the Thumbnail Sketching method, even those with poor drawing skills. This method has many advantages: it helps you rapidly generate ideas and “think outside the box”, encourages the sharing of ideas and helps introduce improvements in an iterative process.
How to use the Thumbnail sketching method
Identify an issue you want to explore, for instance to kick-start a new project. Invite your team to take part in the workshop on your digital whiteboard. With Board Hybrid you can organize the session with team members who are either on site or attending remotely using Live, the built-in videoconferencing tool. First ask team members to work alone: encourage them to think about an aspect of the issue and ask them to draw thumbnails of various options. You can limit the time to stimulate the team’s creativity before moving on to a different aspect of the subject. Then ask them to think about the next aspect, asking them to draw various options.
Then, get the group to discuss the sketches. Together, identify the concepts that need fine-tuning with additional sketches. So sharpen your pencils!