The 9 Box Challenge

Visual thinking is a key part of being a designer and in effect being an innovator. There is immense value in communicating through a visual language and is a key part of my current learning plan. The success of books and workshops from David Sibbet or Dan Roam are testimony to this.

Marc from Business Model Inc’s Chicago offices is fantastic in this space.  Here he suggests a simple challenge to activate the visual brain.

Here is an example of one of the first visuals I had a go many years back on my Galaxy Note 2 phablet of the Business Model Canvas. Nothing fancy and still works. This and other visuals like this helped me create and run one of my first major business model workshop.BMC guesses

Over to Marc and his challenge.

The 9 Box Challenge

Now we all can (re)start at the very basic level, which can still be very powerful. Thanks to the power of today’s technology, I regularly FaceTime my kids when I traveling. A very standard war cry from them is, Dad, can we do the 9 Box Challenge?”.

It’s so much fun for them and I love seeing how their beautiful uncontaminated minds work. So it’s pretty simple; they draw a big square and dissect it into 9 equally sized squares. The challenge is to draw something in each box based on what I ask them to draw. They have approx. 15 seconds to complete each box. In each of the top 6 squares I ask them to draw an object one by one, e.g. a carrot, a tree, a car, a house, which is cool to watch.

The even cooler part is the bottom 3 boxes, where I ask them to draw 3 emotions or skills or things, e.g. draw leadership, draw sadness, draw happiness, draw process. I’ve done this dozens of times and it still amazes me what they generate. Try it yourself!


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