Draw Your Ideas

I saw Jack Dorsey give this talk at The 99% Conference last month. It's a great talk. I particularly like his first point, which is that you should draw out your ideas before you start coding them.

The video is only 16 minutes long and it is well worth the time.

#VC & Technology#Web/Tech

Comments (Archived):

  1. DGentry

    At Sun lo these many years ago we had a conference room equipped with no furniture and big porcelain whiteboard material on every wall, floor to ceiling. Its a fantastic resource for brainstorming.Since then every facility I’ve worked in where we had the power to do so, we’ve equipped such a room. You can buy the raw material at Home Depot for about $20 for a 4×8 sheet, easily within any group’s budget.

    1. Mark Essel

      I’m officially jealous Denton.Can’t wait till I draw in the air and or just think up stuff and it creates an image others can see. Maybe some day

  2. Aviah Laor

    a startup fairy tale.interesting insight:”product mananger is an editor”

    1. fredwilson

      that’s a good way to put it

    2. Tim Metzner

      Agreed – such a great description! Overall I couldn’t agree more with listening to users to drive iteration – we’ve embraced that at SparkPeople and it’s probably one the biggest reasons we’re now the largest diet & fitness site…

      1. Viktor Ovurmind

        Listening is key as a “constituency of design collaboration”, including users. Once a project rolls out, others functional touchpoints add “change costs” that could have been anticipated. This is hidden value if the “entire mind” of the organization is “in the front-end design”. [v.o.M.]

    3. Rocky Agrawal

      one of the most important things in product design is not to be too prescriptive. i’ve been in a lot of product design meetings where people want to block certain capabilities because users might do X,Y or Z. my stance has always been let’s see if it becomes a problem… we know where the potential issues are, let’s see if they surface. (and if they do, we have a plan of attack.) in the mean time, by being less restrictive you can learn from your users what else your product can do.

    4. Viktor Ovurmind

      The “startup fairy tale” reminds me of a Daily Kos article entitled “When the legend becomes fact…print the legend” @ http://www.dailykos.com/sto… Mythology it then seems remains as a principal fabric of the attention economy.[v.o.M.]

  3. Eric Leebow

    Great video, and it’s important to draw out your ideas more than one way, then focus on one. There are always a few ways of doing things. Many of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs have is they draw out their idea, and say we’ll add this or that later, or figure this out later. It’s even good to draw out what you think later would be.

  4. William Mougayar

    Great video & historical tidbit on Twitter’s birth. Other take aways:- recognize when luck is around you and start build out quickly- seeing usages from users and implementing them (@, RT, # were not invented by Twitter!)

  5. timlauer

    Jack Dorsey’s talk at the 99% Conference…

  6. Wilson Usman

    Very interesting speech. I think that square is going to definitely change the world and make it more efficient. I am just thinking if everyone is going to want to carry it around in their pockets all the time specially guys…if they made one that was flat it would make it easier to put it in our wallets.

  7. WayneMulligan

    AMEN! Companies like 37Signals and design consultancies (IDEO comes to mind) have promoted/validated this approach for some time now. I even like how Steven Blank (Mr. Customer Development) encourages entrepreneurs to draw out their business model:http://steveblank.com/2010/http://steveblank.com/2010/

  8. Ben Tseitlin

    Really amazing to see the simplicity of his vision and his initial mockups. It really hits home to me that his focus is on the question of why this exists more than anything else.

    1. fredwilson

      I’ve seen that early sketch of twitter a bunch of times. It is a very powerful example of why sketching out your ideas is so important

      1. Ben Tseitlin

        this also strikes me as interesting because I’ve heard so many stories of sites ending up totally different from the initial idea. in this case it seems very similar to the way twitter looks now- in fact it looks like it’s getting closer for what he was hoping to create (adding locations to tweets just like the manhattan emergency system he had discovered). isn’t this somewhat of an exception rather than the rule?

  9. Dave Pinsen

    Interesting presentation, but Dorsey says nothing about how Twitter was funded or how it got widely adopted.

  10. Lonster

    Great 16min. speech on the implementation of ideas by Twitter founder.

  11. calabs

    I find myself indescribably depressed by this talk. He seems completely out of touch with the notion of creating value for users. The success of his companies seem like pure side-effects of an abstract interest. Which is scary because there’s no thought of utility or reduction of moral hazard.

    1. fredwilson

      Have you read paul graham’s essay where he talks about the two approaches to starting a company? If so, jack is very much in the ‘scratch an itch” camp. Many of the best web apps have started that way. It may seem selfish but it works

      1. Dave Pinsen

        Those aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive approaches. The app you build to scratch your itch can also be one that creates value for users. Not to blow my own horn, but I think this is true of the hedging app Portfolio Armor, for example. I know I’m not the only one who’s wanted to a simple way to figure out how to get ‘crash insurance’ for his investments. And I know the app adds value because users are willing to pay for it.

    2. Guest

      Oh, this is a wrong way to look at this. Satisfying explicit needs is not what startups should do: if the need is explicit, then even the dumb corporate bureaucrats in Big Business would have figured out how to address them…Think of it this way, you don’t go to a master chef’s restaurant knowing what you want, right? You let the chef guide you… The average and explicit culinary needs are readily formulated and addressed by the fast-food or the large-chain restaurant business. Startups are like master chefs who follow their instinct and educate the taste of the consumer. At some point, as the public gets educated and the chef becomes established, this can be turned into a mainstream business, but it always starts with the chef’s genius, not the other way around…

  12. Srinagesh Eranki

    Very succinct. I like the minimalism in his products. The reassurance to not load his products with features is refreshing.On a personal note, being in Melbourne (Australia), there are usually 80+ comments by the time I read your posts. A bit of disincentive to comment (i.e. having to read all prior comments to ensure I’m not repeating what someone said)

    1. paramendra

      Don’t read all comments before you put down yours, unless you really want to read all the comments. I like to read as many as I can, but can’t on many days. At this blog the blog post is half the weight, the other half is all the comments at the bottom. There is a sense of community. You meet and get to know some cool people. It is a hanging out idea. So don’t think of reading comments as a chore.

  13. paramendra

    Inspiring, this guy is inspiring. What about the other videos from that conference? Perhaps they are on their site.

    1. fredwilson

      Mine is not up yet although I don’t think it was as inspiring of a talk

      1. paramendra

        You/they should let u-s decide that! 🙂 But I am not surprised both you and I admire Dorsey so. Your admiration is more enlightened than mine.

  14. Rocky Agrawal

    interesting that we are just now seeing the geo side of jack’s original vision emerge, with the likes of foursquare and gowalla. i especially like what bing is doing with their tweet overlay to bing maps.

    1. fredwilson

      So true. Jack is an investor in foursquare with us

  15. miyoung

    I like the points which are that drawing idea and then as soon as, sharing idea and receiving feedback. I thought doing alone is the investing process, but this video makes me change my narrow thought. thanks for sharing!

  16. Mrinal

    Fred – you might have heard of this book but if not, it helps anyone to visually express with drawing quickly and easily: The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures by Dan Roam. I got it and anyone can learn from it. http://www.thebackofthenapk

  17. aanwar

    Totally agree with most of it, especially the part with Iteration and user feedback. I heard him emphasize the importance of that a lot of times. Awesome presentation.

  18. Guest

    It is plain obvious from this talk that Mr. Dorsey is a visual thinker…Fred, I have a related question for you. You have posted your slide-decks here on several occasions and I have noticed that there are hardly any words in them, it’s all visual. In fact I thought of you a few days ago, we were having this conversation about visual thinkers vs. verbal thinkers… In your case, do you do this as a specific effort, on purpose, or is it that this is the most natural form of expression for you?I myself am pretty visual, too, and my slides always come out rather non-verbal. However, what I have noticed is that a lot of people just stare blank, if they don’t see slides with bullet-point paragraphs in them… So I am thinking of making some concerted effort to put in more text in my talks.

  19. Joseph Sunga

    We have whiteboards all over the office and I constantly have moleskines by my side. Whenever I have an interesting idea — I write it down and draw it out. It’s probably the early artist in me who always sees things visually. When building product, it’s always good to see how the flow is going to work.One day, one of the things I draw in my moleskine, draw on my whiteboard, or even scribbled on a napkin will become big. It’s always fun to see things go from ideas to reality. 🙂

  20. RichardF

    Great talk, thx for the heads up.I mindmap all the time. Visualisation is so important I think.Really like Jack’s point about recognising luck. Being aware when you are in the trenches is a tough thing to do sometimes.

  21. Darth Binamira

    thank you for the post. very nice indeed. it was a little bit funny and ironic that he mentioned sms getting popular around 2005, when over here coming from the other side of the world was already using it during the late 90’s. problem was, nobody really integrated it with the web like twitter (or fb does to some extent).

  22. Viktor Ovurmind

    Dorsey mentions more than a sketch here, it is a catalyst for innovation where the map isn’t the territory but insight to a new landscape (or investment mindscape). As for maps, another way of learning to see was exemplifed by Derek Sivers in 2009 : http://sivers.org/jadr%5Bv.o.M.%5D

  23. Terry J. Leach

    Good talk! I’ve been obsessed and fascinated by one set of very important data for about eight years now. Over the last couple years technology and the climate is becoming right to create an online community and ecosystem around the data. I’m glad to hear Jack Dorsey talk about the origin Twitter as idea and more importantly about drawing his ideas on paper. I’ll definitely start drawing to get the implementation ideas on paper and sharing with others.

  24. brmore

    My kernel from this centers more about the idea “putting in a drawer” if it’s not going/doing/working like you thought it might … that the foundation (ruins?) from “A” might become the infrastructure for “B” down the road.

  25. Jeremy Campbell

    Wow Jack is really getting good at public speaking over the years. He gives the impression that anything is possible through imagination, passion, and curiosity. I find it very interesting that Twitter’s core features came from the users of the medium, and it’s very important that Jack and his co-founders supported and nurtured them fairly early on.Square is such a brilliant idea, one that the credit card companies are likely kicking themselves over for not creating themselves. I wonder what venture comes after Square for Jack?Thanks for sharing Fred!

  26. Grant G.

    Loving this post!