The back of a bar's napkin has become a metaphor for improvisational and passionate brainstorming about a new business idea. In the volatile and exhilarating new technology world of just a few years ago, sometimes the business plan itself was but a collection of bar napkins. And why not, if that plan includes a sentence on how your business is going to make money, it works.
Management consultant Dan Roam has written the book on The Back of the Napkin. He now brings us this ChangeThis manifesto on "The 10 1/2 Commandments of Visual Thinking." I am interested in visual thinking for many reasons. I won't give you 10.5, just a couple.
(1) They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I had this conversation with many writers and they usually come back with the thought that a metaphor is worth a thousand pictures. Fair enough. A metaphor is a way to envision with the mind - very powerful.
(2) When I had the fortune of working with a team of experience design professionals, they taught me how to envision information. Having the ability to display quantitative information is a big advantage that can help you glean more from what you have - and solve problems. Edward Tufte writes and teaches all about that.
(3) The visual display of information can lead you to insights. Let's face it, we are visual beings. All of our daily stimulations - much of which you may contend is noise - include a strong visual component. Our vision is always on from the time we get up in the morning, to the time we go to bed. We may temporarily block our auditory by zoning out, but vision stays on longest.
[...] it’s always worth it to take our picture to the point where something new emerges. When you think you’re done, push that pen one more time to write a title, a conclusion, an insight, or a comment. Squeezing one last drop out of your visual thinking muscle almost always delivers a “eureka!”
I could say the same for writing. My question to you is this - do you find yourself doodling at meetings and on conference calls? What happened to all those white boards? Or maybe all you ever need are bar napkins. They would make the meetings much more fun.