Exciting times ahead for innovation managers who understand the value of thinking in pictures. Here’s why.

As the challenges we face become more complex, visual thinking is emerging as an effective strategy to help us to solve them. Dan Roam, in his new book, Unfolding the Napkin: The Hands-on Method for Solving Complex Problems with Simple Pictures, outlines 3 primary benefits of visual thinking that ought to make you take a serious look at utilizing it in your business:


1. Make better decisions faster

Visually representing a challenge helps us to deconstruct it and understand the factors and issues that make it up. Roam points out that software tools are now available that enable us to simultaneously manipulate individual numbers and analyze complex interactions and outcomes. This computing horsepower will help us to make better, more informed decisions, faster.

2. Help us to communicate our decisions (and visions) more effectively

You’ve heard it numerous times on this website and other innovation blogs: It’s not enough to have a great idea. You’ve got to be able to sell it to people who can support, fund and help to nurture it. “As more businesspeople become more aware of the power of pictures as a communications tool, more and more tools (both software based and ‘real life’) will become available to help create more meaningful charts, diagrams, time lines, maps, flowcharts, etc., both alone and as teams,” he predicts. “The great issue here is to first understand what we want to show and what our audience is willing to see, and only then to boot up the machines.”

3. Help our teams execute those decisions more effectively

Project management tools that once were the exclusive domain of professional project managers are now becoming more democratized and easier to use, putting this power into the hands of average managers. Roam says that tools are under development that will soon enable globally distributed teams to “be in instant visual contact with their project and each other, monitoring whatever needs to be happening at the level of detail that matters most at the moment.”

Soumds like exciting times ahead for innovation managers who understand the value of thinking in pictures!