Playdoh and Silly Putty

Why do we like working with our hands so much? What is it about making something tactile, that gets the brain engaged?

Whenever there is a complex decision to be made, and usually nothing is more hairy than prioritization debates, I like writing things out on index cards (one item per card, bonus if I have time to draw icons and pictures) that people can touch and move about. The data, which on a screen would make people’s eyes glaze over, comes to life when in tactile form.

When it comes to dot voting, should that be useful, I use M&Ms or skittles. The humor factor is nice, but again, I think there is something about making your vote something you can hold, bounce, weigh (even eat).

My theory is that for this to be effective, it’s more than just printing things out on paper. It has to be something you can touch, move, pick up.

  • So true. Reminds me of http://www.creativitypost.com/psychology/thinkering:

    ‘Thinkering’ is a word that the writer Michael Ondaatje coined in his novel The English Patient to express the genesis of concepts in the mind while tinkering with the hands. Much has been written about the human hand and how its use effects the brain, language and culture. What we want to point out here is that the physical manipulation of things, like direct personal experience of any kind, generates sensory images of all sorts and thus enables thought. Hands-on tinkering leads to minds-on thinkering. Bodily engagement with nature teaches much more than any amount of words or numbers in science books. Doing produces a personal understanding that symbols simply can’t.

    • nice – thanks for that link!