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Back Of The Napkin [Hardcover]

Dan Roam
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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The Back of the Napkin (Expanded Edition): Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures The Back of the Napkin (Expanded Edition): Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures 4.1 out of 5 stars (7)
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Book Description

March 18 2008
A bold new way to tackle tough business problems-even if you draw like a second grader

When Herb Kelleher was brainstorming about how to beat the traditional hub-and- spoke airlines, he grabbed a bar napkin and a pen. Three dots to represent Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. Three arrows to show direct flights. Problem solved, and the picture made it easy to sell Southwest Airlines to investors and customers.

Used properly, a simple drawing on a humble napkin is more powerful than Excel or PowerPoint. It can help crystallize ideas, think outside the box, and communicate in a way that people simply "get". In this book Dan Roam argues that everyone is born with a talent for visual thinking, even those who swear they can't draw.

Drawing on twenty years of visual problem solving combined with the recent discoveries of vision science, this book shows anyone how to clarify a problem or sell an idea by visually breaking it down using a simple set of visual thinking tools - tools that take advantage of everyone's innate ability to look, see, imagine, and show.

THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN proves that thinking with pictures can help anyone discover and develop new ideas, solve problems in unexpected ways, and dramatically improve their ability to share their insights. This book will help readers literally see the world in a new way.

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Product Description

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.


"BusinessWeek"'s best innovation book of the year A "Fast Company" best business book of the year The ("London") "Times" business creativity book of the year "A must read for younger generation managers." -"BusinessWeek" "Roam shows that even the most analytical right-brainers can work better by thinking visually." -"Newsweek" "[Roam] shows you how to create simple drawings...that are simple but effective tools in breaking down complex notions and letting you share an idea across cultures and levels of expertise with aplomb." -"Fast Company" "As painful as it is for any writer to admit, a picture "is" 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 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-c --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
What's the most daunting business problem you can picture? Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Note: The review that follows is of the Expanded Edition, published in 2009.

I read the original (published in 2008) and then this second edition with increasing admiration. As I began to work my way through Dan Roam's lively narrative, I was reminded of an incident years ago when a prominent venture capitalist found himself trapped by a young entrepreneur at a cocktail party. "This is my lucky day! I have been trying to get to see you for months! I have a great investment for you!" The VC asked if the young man had a business card. "You bet!" and offered one. "No, please, here's what I want you to do. Explain on the back of the card why I should be interested." Astonished, the young man replied, "That's impossible!" In response, the VC said, "Then I have no interest."

In essence, this anecdote suggests Roam's key insight: To answer a question, to solve a problem, to persuade others, or to achieve another goal, formulate it as a simple drawing. You may claim that you have no skills for drawing. That's good news. Why? Roam asserts that less-sophisticated drawings have greater impact because those who see them can more easily identify with stick figures, for example, and focus more readily on the relationships suggested, such as between and among options to be considered, implications and consequences, and cause-and-effect. Simple drawings accelerate both inductive and deductive reasoning.

There is another reason that, in my opinion, is more important than any other: If the objective of the drawing is to simplify a situation (e.g. question, problem, opportunity, peril) by focusing on what is most important, a simple drawing is most appropriate. Roam agrees with Albert Einstein: "Make everything as simple as possible...but no simpler.
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By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
If you don't have any idea of how pictures can help you see more dimensions of problems and explain your solutions better, this is a good book to get you started. The book's main drawback is that it doesn't discuss how to integrate stories with pictures to make for more compelling communications. You'll have to learn to do that by reading books about storytelling to supplement this one.

I consider myself to be not very good at creating pictures for either solving problems or communicating solutions. I was disappointed that the book wasn't aimed more at helping people like me who understand the principles but have trouble applying those concepts.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Really handy reference to have around Jan. 1 2010
I'm very glad I bought this book. It breaks down the collection and delivery of information into categories 'almost a cheat sheet ' showing how to represent them all visually. I always consult this book, along with Slide:ology whenever I have to do any presentations. Real Leaders Don't Use Powerpoint is great for helping with the verbal part of the presentations.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great information March 17 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I really liked how this book was written and presented. It's an easy read, but don't let that fool you. It is packed full of great tips and relevant information.
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