The Power of Displayed Thinking

July 06, 2012  

As our clients watch us build brands, they sometimes comment that the stuff we do seems unusual, even a little crazy. But the truth is, many of the tools and techniques we use have been around in one form or another for a long time — they just aren’t used very often.

One good example is something we call displayed thinking. We didn’t invent the idea or make up the term. But it’s an integral part of how we work at Ologie, so much so that we sometimes forget it isn’t second nature to everyone.

If these walls could speak

Our version of displayed thinking has a lot to do with walls. When folks tour our work environment, they notice right away that, throughout the building, many of our walls are covered with a thin layer of cork.

Why? So we can use the walls like billboards. Or chalkboards. Or the walls in dorm rooms or classrooms. (If you’ve ever been to parents’ night at an elementary school, you know what we’re talking about.) At Ologie, everything goes up on the walls: ideas, sketches, entire campaigns, finished work, work in progress, ads, inspiration, strategy frameworks, manifestos, photos — you name it.

In this age of laptops, iPads, smartphones, and other oh-so-personal digital devices, we tend to keep our heads down, each of us buried in our own work. And in this hyper-networked world, things get shared from device to device, not together as a group.

Yes, virtual-meeting and file-sharing technology can be indispensable. But if you and your colleagues are in a building with “sticky” walls, there’s no substitute for huddling around some work together, sharing it physically, in real time. You can write and draw on things, move them around, combine them, add to them, and engage in a type of visual and physical brainstorming that is darn near impossible in a virtual environment. And the benefits of working this way are numerous.

Seeing clearer, working better

The Power of Displayed Thinking

Displayed thinking creates a major shift in perspective. Standing in front of a body of work tells you the entire story. Once everything is up on the wall, you can step back and absorb what’s really going on. Then it’s easier to spot the gaps and find some fresh perspective.

Displayed thinking also inspires collaboration. With work up on the wall, people can’t help but think about it and talk about it. And that’s when new ideas emerge — often the valuable insights that take work from good to great. Better yet, as people discuss what they see, they start making connections that they otherwise wouldn’t.

That’s why we use this technique in all of our workshops. Time and again, we see this creative cycle repeat itself throughout the day, as ideas get added and altered, and the walls become a living record that changes with each exercise and discussion.

Like we said, this is not a new idea. In fact, one of our clients recently called it “old school” — and she meant it as a compliment. We agree: it is old school. But it’s so simple, yet so powerful, that we’re convinced of its currency today as a valuable way to collaborate, share, and evolve your brand.