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Mysterious Drawings

Field of application

#Problem Analysis.
#Idea improvement
#Product design
#Service design
#Process design
#Creativity skills development


Resume / Brief description

In this marvelous exercise, participants use its poor drawing skills (it is forbidden to draw well) to stimulate new ideas in others. The game starts with all participants drawing a couple of creative solutions to the proposed problem. Then, these masterpieces are distributed around the room to let other participants try to guess the solution and add new elements. The result is a variety of interpretations that give birth to unexpected ideas.
Drawing has been always associated with creative thinking as involves other parts of the brain different to those usually involved in analysis and problem solving.
The dynamic generated by this game produces a large variety of interpretations opening roads for unexpected solutions.



  • Problem reframing
  • Ideation
  • Idea optimization
Target group
  • Entrepreneurs
  • I&D team
  • Innovation teams
  • Students
  • Community
Group size

2 to 25 people



To help an innovation team to generate new and original ideas to solve a specific situation.




  • Paper for each participant. Adhesive notes.
  • Pens, colors, markers

Digital version

  • digital board that let participants draw and add notes


  • 20 to 60 minutes
Implementation - Overview

The technique starts by asking participants to make a drawing depicting an original solution to the problem. But the fun comes later, when, organized into couples, they try to interpret those precarious drawings. 


Implementation - Guidelines

The first stage demands to be sure that all participants understand correctly the problem to solve.
During the second stage, ask the participants to think of a creative solution for the problem and draw it in a sheet of paper. Letters, symbols and numbers are not allowed. The general idea is to draw badly, this means to draw general lines, including as many elements as they can but not being detailed or rigorous about them. To achieve this you will give points to the first 1 to 5 (depending on the quantity of participants) artists to finish. Once the last of the participants receiving points has finished, no one can draw anything else. This time pressure will grant the kind of drawings needed.
The third state is simultaneously funny and productive. The group is reorganized into couples who receive one random drawing (if the drawing received was made by one of the members of the couple, change it) and try to interpret it. In other words, the team must try to guess the solution looking at the drawing. The team must use paper cards or adhesive notes to write down each interpretation. As several different interpretations can emerge from a drawing, the couple must write all of them. At least two interpretations must be presented by each couple. The process is repeated using the remaining drawings.
In the fourth stage, the couples present their interpretations and the author presents the original idea. Points are awarded to those teams who:
- Guessed correctly
- Guessed so wrong that everybody laugh
The fourth stage involves the creative-artistic expo. The original sketches and their interpretations (including the original one), are adhered on the wall for all the group to see them.
In the final stage the participants are invited to tour the exposition and add more details and complements to the ideas exhibited.
Even though this technique is really fun, it is not light. The ideas generated can be really disruptive and should be taken seriously.


Example of application:

In a bank, a group of executives were asked to draw ideas for new products. Each drawing was then put into an envelope and rotated among participants who had to take it out and try to interpret the drawing to guess the original idea. Each interpretation was written down in a paper card and introduced in the envelope with the original drawing.
One interesting twist introduced to the game was that in this case, the participant was not allowed to repeat interpretation. This prohibition made the exercise more difficult as it advanced. The participant receiving similar solutions must "invent" a new interpretation to the second drawing. This took the creativity to a higher level.


Templates, Graphics for download

Additional format/references