The NOT-CODING skills

14,000+ people have looked at this tweet and there’s a very specific reason why I asked this question.

Currently, in tech, we focus SO MUCH

We focus so much on learning code, syntax, and the different pieces of tech. This is great, but it also means we are starving ourselves of many of the skills we need to build complicated systems.

Visual Communication

Even when we think of what we need to learn to advance in our careers, usually it’s the next programming language or web-development framework.

An abundance of oxygen

There is a nourishment in learning these non-coding skills. Just as sitting in a greenhouse floods our lungs with rich, nourishing oxygen, learning how to

  • connect with someone
  • find empathy with your team
  • communicate in a different style

Provides the oxygen of understanding and alignment to a team of diverse people working on a complicated problem.

This might all sound like luxury, but oxygen IS a requirement for us to live. In fact, if we want to do something strenuous, we need an abundance of it. (Try walking uphill in your Covid mask!)

Just as we require an abundance of oxygen for peak performance, we need super-powers besides just writing code fast to build complicated systems. There’s no coding it alone!

In particular and surprising no one, I’ve been reading up on the link between our brains, how we learn and communicating through drawing. There is science there!! Did you know that spatial thinking is the foundation of abstract thought? [Hat tip: Mike Jelinek who turned me onto Barbara Tversky’s book, Mind in Motion through his talk, “The Science of Sketching].

In the meantime, are you missing the white board? There are good reasons why we reach for sketching when we are trying to communicate something complicated just as Leonardo da Vinci turned to sketching as a tool for studying the human heart.

Anatomical drawings of the heart and major blood vessels, Leonardo da... | Download Scientific ...
Leonardo da Vinci sketches the heart

However, you don’t have to be Leonardo to communicate effectively using sketches. In fact, you don’t have to be an artist at all! This is a skill you can totally learn, and it’s the foundational reason why I started the Let’s Sketch Tech! community in 2018.

Join me on this journey in my half-day workshop, “Sketch the Tech.”

I can’t guarantee you’ll be making sketches just like Leonardo afterward, but I can promise, you’ll be ready to share a sketch of some complicated ideas with your teammates.

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