- Hardcover: 256 pages
- Publisher: Portfolio (March 18 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1591841992
- ISBN-13: 978-1591841999
- Product Dimensions: 18.3 x 2.7 x 18.7 cm
- Shipping Weight: 581 g
- Average Customer Review: 12 customer reviews
Amazon Bestsellers Rank:
#492,992 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #1092 in Books > Business & Investing > Skills > Running Meetings & Presentations
- #1584 in Books > Professional & Technical > Business Management > Management & Leadership > Decision-Making & Problem Solving
- #1586 in Books > Business & Investing > Management & Leadership > Decision-Making & Problem Solving
Back Of The Napkin Hardcover – Mar 13 2008
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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.
About the Author
Dan Roam is the founder and president of Digital Roam Inc., a management- consulting firm that helps business executives solve complex problems through visual thinking. He has brought his unique approach to clients such as General Electric, Wal-Mart, Wells Fargo Bank, the U.S. Navy, HBO, News Corporation, and Sun Microsystems, among many others. He lectures around the country for clients and at business conferences.
Top customer reviews
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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."
Throughout Roam's lively narrative, he provides his reader with a full complement of "tools" and carefully explains how and when to use each. They include:
o The six problem "clumps" (i.e. who and what, how much, when, where, how, and why)
o Why "the hand is mightier than the mouse"
o Self-assessment exercises (e.g. Pages 26-27)
o A four-step guide to visual thinking
o "How to Look Better: Four Rules to Live By"
o "The Six Way of Seeing"
o "The Six Ways We See"
o What S-Q-V-I-D stands for and how to use it effectively
o The five S-Q-V-I-D questions "in action"
o "Whiteboard Workshop"
Roam provides all this (and much more) in the first six of 16 chapters, then in Appendix A he identifies and discusses what he characterizes as "The Ten (and a Half) Commandments of Visual Thinking." Again as he has throughout the previous material, he stresses the importance of mastering the basic skills of visual thinking and then apply them effectively guided and informed by these core principles:
1, There is no more powerful way to discover a new idea than to draw a simple picture.
2. There is no faster way to develop and test an idea than to draw a simple picture.
3. There is no more effective way to share an idea with other people than to draw a simple picture.
In this book and in its sequel, Unfolding the Napkin, Dan Roam explains how to achieve these objectives by (you guessed it) drawing a series of simple pictures. Bravo!
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.
I personally enjoy using a whiteboard to write ideas and brainstorming (I'm a black pen). But no matter your relationship with the whiteboard, you'll find something for you inside the book.
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