Unfolding the Napkin- The Hands-On Method for Solving Complex Problems with Simple Pictures


I’ve been intrigued for a while now by Dan Roam’s series of books about visual problem solving. I purchased Unfolding the Napkin: The Hands-On Method for Solving Complex Problems with Simple Pictures, without realizing it is actually the workbook for his first book The Back of the Napkin. However, it doesn’t really matter as it works well as a standalone book.

The book is geared towards business people who want to improve their presentations by including pictures that encourage audience involvement. The techniques are simple enough that they can be used by anybody who want to be a better visual thinker. Unfolding the Napkin is full of fun doodles, exercises and real life examples of where pictures were used to solve a major problem in major corporations. The book is divided into 4 lessons (complete with lunch breaks). The four parts make up the steps of visual thinking: Looking, Seeing, Imagining and Showing. The most helpful section to me was the Imagining section which introduced the SQVID method of thinking. It stood for the different ways of imaging how to solve a problem (although I’m not entirely what the acronym stands for).

SQVID on opening a wine bottle

The book explains how modern day presentations all suck because they are often hundreds of pages of Power Point slides that mean nothing. It also delves into the psychology of how when something is computer generated and perfect, we tend not to question it. In contrast if we doodle an idea or a plan, there is imperfection and people will comment and give feedback. There is definitely truth in that idea, and hey, I like to doodle.

I recommend this book to anybody who makes presentations of any kind and wants to look beyond just Powerpoint. I’ve always been a visual learner and I think I may dive into some more of Dan Roam’s books. I’m especially interested in Blah Blah Blah which is geared more towards personal thinking than the board room. PS. I haven’t stopped on delivering you guys doodletastic posts. More to come soon.

Book marked places to take a lunch :)
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