It’s a great feeling to sit in front of someone, take them through our process and have them say, “This makes so much sense now.” To them, it’s a magic trick. To us, it’s another day at the office. I was listening to Patrick O’Shaughnessy interview Twilio CEO Jeff Lawson about their core values (amongst other things). One of their values is the obscure sounding “draw the owl.” That magic trick mentioned above – the special thing we know we do that keeps clients coming through the door – that’s our version of drawing the owl.
There’s an old internet meme that said: “how to draw an owl” with a two-step process. Step one showed two overlapping circles representing a head and body, and then step two showed a beautifully detailed sketch of an owl. Lawson says the expression acts as a reminder that there is no instruction book. There’s a lot that happens between steps one and two. There’s always a process, even when we don’t see it.
If we are drawing the owl, we get to figure out our own way to the end result. If someone else has drawn their own owl, we can admire the presence of their process too. In all cases, no one who successfully draws an owl is just winging it either. To draw the owl is to have both vision and intention. Monkeys and typewriters may come up with Shakespeare, but not on any predictable timeline. The same applies to drawing the owl, we should know what we are aiming for and then iterate/refine/practice towards our desired result.
We all have our own professional magic tricks. We all have our way of creating something valuable and delivering it. Our clients won’t take it for granted if we don’t take it for granted either. Draw the owl. Take the time to understand all of the hidden steps from start to finish. Go out and amaze some people. Take the time to be amazed by other’s owls too. The world needs good work, to be admired and to be created. Continuously.
Draw the owl.