Why the Doodle Matters
Don’t dismiss doodling – in the right hands, it can be a serious and useful tool that should be deployed when problems are most messy and topics most serious, says business owner, author and leader of the doodle revolution Sunni Brown
Many of you may recall the story of the now-infamous ‘Davos doodle’. For those who don’t, let me summarise. In 1996 in Davos, Switzerland, the world’s most pre-eminent leaders gathered at the annual World Economic Forum. They were discussing weighty topics such as the end of easy oil, global pandemics and what was at stake in Iraq. When a press conference came to a close, event workers gathered the remains of the day and found something that turned into a scandal: a doodle left behind by then-prime minister Tony Blair.
Unfortunately for Blair, the scribbling was psychoanalysed by graphologists – people who study handwriting and relate it to psychological states. From their analyses came assertions that Blair was “aggressive” and “unstable”, among other unflattering things. But when the dust finally settled, a truth no one anticipated emerged about this doodle. It didn’t belong to Blair. It was by the Microsoft founder and billionaire Bill Gates. This discovery led to backtracking about the conclusions drawn, and reignited an old debate about graphology as a pseudoscience.
A rootless stigma
During this rather childish mania, the press missed something important. The rhetoric surrounding the fiasco had a built-in assumption that is negligently off-base: it was inappropriate for Blair to have been doodling in the first place. Time and again I noticed the covert messaging: leaders do not doodle. When solving serious problems, to draw is to trivialise. It’s unacceptable to sketch when complex subject matter is being dealt with. Read Sunni Brown's complete article.