Posts Tagged ‘graphic design’

Great Information Design Book: The Back of the Napkin (Kelso)

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

I got a great xmas gift from my friend Curt this year, a little book called The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures by Dan Roam. If you like Edward Tufte, you’ll like Dan Roam. This book was rated #5 Business Book on Amazon.com last year, but really he talks about informational graphic storytelling, so don’t let that throw you.

As it advertises in the introduction, I was able to read thru the book on my DC to LA flight but I quickly discovered there are enough gems for many returns. Here are the basics:

Dan Roam has a great website with animations, movies, and other resources. He also puts on events and keeps current with a blog. The following images are from his website.

1. Visual Thinking Toolbox

2. The Codex

3. The SQVID

4. The <6><6> Rule

From Amazon.com (below). Buy it there.

From Publishers Weekly
The premise behind Roam’s book is simple: anybody with a pen and a scrap of paper can use visual thinking to work through complex business ideas. Management consultant and lecturer Roam begins with a watershed moment: asked, at the last minute, to give a talk to top government officials, he sketched a diagram on a napkin. The clarity and power of that image allowed him to communicate directly with his audience. From this starting point, Roam has developed a remarkably comprehensive system of ideas. Everything in the book is broken down into steps, providing the reader with tools and rules to facilitate picture making. There are the four steps of visual thinking, the six ways of seeing and the SQVID– a clumsy acronym for a full brain visual work out designed to focus ideas. Roam occasionally overcomplicates; an extended case study takes up a full third of the book and contains an overload of images that belie the book’s central message of simplicity. Nonetheless, for forward-thinking management types, there is enough content in these pages to drive many a brainstorming session. Illus. (Mar 13)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review
“The premise behind Roam’s book is simple: anybody with a pen and a scrap of paper can use visual thinking to work through complex business ideas. Management consultant and lecturer Roam begins with a “watershed moment”: asked, at the last minute, to give a talk to top government officials, he sketched a diagram on a napkin. The clarity and power of that image allowed him to communicate directly with his audience. From this starting point, Roam has developed a remarkably comprehensive system of ideas. Everything in the book is broken down into steps, providing the reader with “tools and rules” to facilitate picture making. There are the four steps of visual thinking, the six ways of seeing and the “SQVID”– a clumsy acronym for a “full brain visual work out” designed to focus ideas. Roam occasionally overcomplicates; an extended case study takes up a full third of the book and contains an overload of images that belie the book’s central message of simplicity. Nonetheless, for forward-thinking management types, there is enough content in these pages to drive many a brainstorming session. Illus.”
Publisher’s Weekly

“As painful as it is for any writer to admit, a picture *is* sometimes worth a thousand words. That’s why I learned so much from this book. With style and wit, Dan Roam has provided a smart, practical primer on the power of visual thinking.”
—Daniel H. Pink, author of A Whole New Mind

“Inspiring! It teaches you a new way of thinking in a few hours — what more could you ask from a book?”
—Dan Heath, author of Made to Stick

“This book is a must read for managers and business leaders. Visual thinking frees your mind to solve problems in unique and effective ways.”
—Temple Grandin, author of Thinking in Pictures

“If you observe the way people read or listen to things in the early 21st century, you realize that there aren’t many of us left with a linear attention span. Visual information is much more interesting than verbal information. So if you want to make a point, do it with images, pictures or graphics. . . . Dan Roam is the first visual consultant for businesses that I’ve worked with. His approach is faster for the customer. And the message sticks.”
—Roger Black, Media design leader, Author of Websites That Work

“Simplicity. This is Dan Roam’s message in The Back Of The Napkin. We all dread business meetings with their mountains of documents and the endless bulleted power points. Roam cuts through all that to demonstrate how the use of simple drawings — executed while the audience watches — communicate infinitely better than those complex presentations. Is a picture truly worth a thousand words? Having told us how to communicate with pictures, Roam rounds out his message by explaining that “We don’t show an insight-inspiring picture because it saves a thousand words; we show it because it elicits the thousand words that make the greatest difference.” And that is communication that works.”
—Bill Yenne, author of Guinness: The 250 Year Quest for the Perfect Pint