David Hoang, writing in his newsletter:

Designers have a great superpower of being able to visualize strategy, and it is underused. It’s difficult to find balance. In some ways, if you come in with too polished of designs, people will accuse it of being “too tactical” and if you don’t come with anything, you haven’t explored enough. So where is the balance? It’s somewhere in the middle.

The middle includes sketching: quickly capturing ideas on paper in rough form so we can see what we mean. It’s an essential skill, and it’s easier for designers to practice than for people in other roles.

One of the ways designers make a difference in organizations is by bringing abstract concepts to life. As I’ve said before, design is about making possibilities tangible. Designers take ideas that live in presentation decks, spreadsheets, and ephemeral conversations and turn them into artifacts we can imagine using.

Things we can relate to are qualitatively different from abstract concepts. We understand an idea differently when we can envision how it could be as an actual thing in the world. And we understand the concept even more deeply if we can put a thing in front of a for-real human and see how they react.

Taking the first step from abstractionland into reality can be hard. It’s best to start simply, small, and rough, and iterate quickly. Sketches are ideal because they allow you to get rolling fast. They’re not precious, so you’re not bound to ideas prematurely.

Sketches also avoid the illusion of precision. When sketching, you’re held to a lower standard: we don’t expect sketches to be beautiful. (See Ryan Johnson’s THE LAST JEDI storyboards in Hoang’s post.) But they ought to be clear — at a minimum to you, and ideally to others.

Because the point of sketching is to establish a feedback loop. Sketches aren’t “deliverables” — they’re part of your thinking process; an extension of your mind. The tighter the loop, the better. There will be time to switch to other modalities later. But at the beginning, work fast and loose — and iterate, iterate, iterate.

Sketching as a strategy - by David Hoang - Proof of Concept (H/t Kenny Chen)