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Be more creative with The DaVinci Method

A few years ago I began to realize the importance of communication and proper research in business. During this time I studied many techniques and books. However, more than any other Leonardo DaVinci, gave me an important revelation that I still use to this day.

I believe this technique is one of the secret’s to being an innovator. The advantages of the following technique are the following:

  • Better Cognition
  • Enhanced Ability to Innovate
  • Better research and exposure to ideas

DaVinci’s Notes

“However, that’s when I realized that the fact that these notes existed, and that they were so detailed, was a revelation in itself.”

One day I made a spontaneous purchase of a large coffee table size book filled with all of Leonardo’s notes. These notes have become quite famous for their artistic value, and I was hoping that Leo would drop some insights.

On first reading it, I didn’t notice too many things that stood out in terms of knowledge. Most Leo’s insights were simply outdated.

However, that’s when I realized that the fact that these notes existed, and that they were so detailed, was a revelation in itself.

How many people today do such meticulous research and study?

So after realizing this, and studying DaVinci’s approach, I created what I call “The DaVinci Method” for research and note taking.

DaVinci Method

The Technique

If you take a look at DaVinci’s notes, he always used plain pieces of paper and filled them up with notes in an unformatted way. He would do detailed sketches and fill every page up with insights in his notes. Based on this, here are some rules on taking notes…

  • Take Notes – Most importantly you should have a notebook that you keep with you all the time. Compliment this by using Evernote to keep track in an electronic format.
  • Draw Pictures – Drawing pictures and 3-d forms is better than text only. This is because our memory works better when it can associate information with objects.
  • Don’t Format – Don’t buy notebooks with lines on the pages. Keep the notes unformatted and allow your mind to freely structure the information on the page.
  • Write Down Everything – When studying something, you may feel that a particular observation is obvious or not worth writing down. These cases can in fact be the most important thing to document, since people often over estimate their ability to remember things.
Example of DaVinci’s Note Taking
Example of DaVinci’s Note Taking

The Process

For every subject DaVinci wanted to master, he went through the same steps. I believe this gave him a formatted way to get access to all the good ideas related to a subject, so he could then compare and contrast them.

  • Theory – Studying theory (e.g. books) will teach you the basics and give you the perspective to understand subtlety in the work of others (competition and masters)
  • Masters – Provided you have perspective from ‘theory’… Studying those who have ‘mastered’ a subject will show you the best ideas to employ in that subject.
  • Competition – Once you are aware of theory and best practice, studying competition will show you how ideas can be applied to a situation relevant to your own.
  • Get Feedback – Gaining objective feedback from respected colleagues will give you the ability to see in your own work, what others do. Feedback works in concert with your perspective on a subject. All feedback should be reflected on; although not all should be used.

Here is a quote from DaVinci on taking feedback on your work:

“Be curious to hear with patience the opinions of others. Consider and weigh well whether those who find fault have ground or not for blame, and if so, amend. But if not, make as though you have not heard, or if they should be someone you esteem, show them by arguments the cause of their mistake.”

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