Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Think Visual

I'm not an artist, but I'm a big fan of visual thinking. Dan Roam's book "The Back of the Napkin" has provided an ongoing lesson in visual thinking for me.

This month's Wired magazine has a great article by Clive Thompson entitled "Think Visual." It poses this thought:

The best way to solve complicated problems might be to draw them

Thompson was in the process of buying a new laptop this summer, and he faced a blizzard of choices. After hours of web searches, reading reviews, and pages of choices, the options were baffling.

His solution? He picked up  one of his son's Crayolas, drew doodles of all the laptop choices, and covered them with icons of the pros and cons of each. When he stood back and looked at the pictures, the answer jumped out at him.

That's visual thinking - drawing pictures to solve a problem.

Sure, it may be helpful for a "simple" problem like buying a laptop. But what about dynamic, complicated problems - like economic reforms, world health issues, etc. Roam thinks that these problems can't be boiled down to a narrative. In these situations, drawing a picture can clarify what's going on.

It's time to re-think pictures - crayons, pencils, or iPad. Maybe the solution to your greatest problem is just a few sketches away.

Ready to draw?

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