Earlier this week, I was in a colleague’s office and saw her whiteboard with an interesting diagram on it. The longer I looked at the image, the more I realized I had no idea what it was trying to communicate. It was a combination of lines and boxes mixed in with dates and activity titles. Needless to say, it was the perfect opportunity to test out the techniques Dan Roam explains in “Unfolding the Napkin: Solving Complex Problems with Simple Pictures.” He argues that anyone can solve any problem using a simple picture.
While I don’t want to give away all its secrets (as I think you need to go read/doodle in this book yourself), I will share Dan’s four unwritten rules of visual thinking. They are simply:
- Whoever is best able to describe the problem is the person most likely to solve it.
- We can’t solve a problem that overwhelms us. However, there are only 6 kinds of problems (each with a simple picture that can be used to solve it), so identify the kind of problem and your problem is half solved.
- Problems don’t get solved by the smartest or the fastest or the strongest; they get solved by the one who sees the possibilities.
- The more human your picture, the more human the response.
So I picked up the whiteboard marker and started asking questions about what kind of problem she was having. She wanted to explain what type of and how much work needed to be done at different times of the year. So we doodled away using the simple pictures that would help answer those questions and saw her solution simply emerge from the drawings! It was so cool to see! Two people passing by even came in and immediately could tell what the diagram was trying to explain. I just love it when theories actually work when they are applied!
Long story short, on my way back to my office, on this total high, I thought of all the ideas I try to communicate here on this site and how beneficial simple pictures would be. So I grabbed the giftcard I recently received and picked myself up a BAMBOO tablet.
It’s time to infuse these posts with some more hand drawn doodle love! I hope these help!
Pick of the post: Jason Castro – Let’s Just Fall in Love Again (official music video)