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May 23, 2003

Doodles & Their Uses


Do you doodle when you’re on the phone? I do, especially when I’m on an important business call. This may seem goofy, but I do it for two reasons. One is to avoid talking out of nervousness (a bad habit of mine and a definite obstacle in being a tough negotiator) and to provide me with some insight into my feelings about how the call went after the fact. I usually find that my subconscious is busy giving me a message via the doodle, and one I usually often find fairly easy to interpret.

Here is a sample from a call I was on yesterday. To understand it, you need to have some background. We had been working with a business ally on developing one of our projects. I thought both parties had a pretty good understanding of what benefits each of us would be getting from the project, as well as our responsibilities, and that we were both on board with that. In the past few days, however, I received some pieces of information that suggested that our deal was not quite as “done” as I had thought. Wanting to clarify this issue, as we are counting on this guy to do handle some significant aspects of the project, I gave him a call. We had a long and fairly amiable conversation during which he was working hard to convince me that he was still on the same page. I cranked out this doodle in ballpoint pen and whiteout (some of my favorite art supplies) during the conversation, drawing at random out of my head.

After the conversation ended, apparently in total accord, I looked down at the doodle and thought, now what’s the title of this little effort? The answer came back immediately: “And There Was a Crooked Man.”

F. Von Blowhard, And There Was a Crooked Man, 2003

About an hour later one of my employees came in to tell me that he had just gotten off the phone with this same guy, and that the guy confessed after a bit of hemming and hawing that he wasn’t really happy with the deal as structured. I replied to my employee: “Ah, I knew that.”

It may not lead to great art, but doodling can certainly be a management tool.



posted by Friedrich at May 23, 2003


I sense a bestselling management-tip book in the making here: "Doodle Your Way to Success." Time to give up being a productive citizen and become a guru and consultant instead. Need a lit agent?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on May 23, 2003 2:28 PM

Excellent doodle, by the way.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on May 23, 2003 2:29 PM

Wait a minute! What happened to the post I saw just a while ago that Michael signed "blushingly"?

It was a commentary and link to a very weird article about Larry, the director of "The Matrix".

I'm sure I saw it here!

Posted by: Felicity on May 23, 2003 8:55 PM

Your doodling is much better than mine, artistically speaking. I tend to go for fairly basic line drawings of cartoon ducks and screaming faces, things like that.

Posted by: James Russell on May 24, 2003 12:43 AM

Mr. Russell:

Chuck Jones, the director and animator, would insist otherwise, I'm afraid. I remember a comment in his autobiography that the only good drawings are line drawings. (Of course, this cut me to the quick, as there is some truth in it.) For me, though, the hatching and cross-hatching, the beginning semi-abstract shapes and their often laborious reworkings into semi-coherent 3-dimensional structures are integral with the release of nervous tension, which why I doodle on the phone in the first place.

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on May 24, 2003 1:29 AM

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