The Back of the Napkin
Visual thinking is the key to getting an idea across, and in this book, Dan Roam explains why you do not have to be an artist to demonstrate your vision to a group. He identifies three visual personalities. There are those who are quick to jump up and begin drawing, those who will add their ideas once the initial drawing is present, and those who will add corrections – and in many cases completely recreate the drawing with great technical acumen. His main point is that even those who are initially reluctant to step up to the whiteboard may have something to add or may even be the key once you get them started.
Many of us are constrained by computer programs such as Power Point or other slide templates, but with some creativity, at least in the initial thought processes, we set our minds free and might find a better way to get an important idea across. In one case, Mr. Roam’s team took a large Power Point presentation and were able to distill all the critical information into one slide using simplistic symbols in a creative fashion. This one slide gave the leadership a snapshot slide to quickly assess significant metrics. Some of this refinement occurred though the process of weeding through all the data collected currently and deciding how much of it was actually used and which metrics provided useful information to the leadership. No duplicate metrics displayed a different way, no metrics that measured things no one needed to know – all that was on the cutting room floor when they were finished.
Mr. Roam has a simple process he uses to decide between simple and elaborate images and what type of images are most applicable depending on the “who, what, where, when, how and why” story you are creating. He also goes into some of the scientific reasoning for the way people think and why this works. Do you have to brief a very business oriented person or a more abstract creative thinker? His process even gets into the differences and how to respond to each type.
This book is a quick read and is easy on the eyes as well. True to the subject, there are many drawings, and just fanning through the book you begin to get the idea. I recommend this book to anyone interested in looking at their data in a different, more creative way. It may just simplify and re-energize your team!
Roam, Dan. The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures. New York: Penguin Group, Inc. 2008. Print.