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The Back of the Napkin (Expanded Edition): Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures Hardcover – December 31, 2009
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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."
"Roam shows that even the most analytical right-brainers can work better by thinking visually."
"[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."
"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-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 insight-inspiring pictures 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
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
The sequel, "Unfolding the Napkin" (which I also read) is better thought out, serves more as a method, and contains more visual examples - but it still rehashes pretty much the same material as the first book in order to make its point, so reading both books was redundant in my opinion.
I am a technical trainer and writer and have been teaching classes for more than 10 years now. For the last 7 years I've been using a pen tablet in my classes to draw diagrams on-the-fly while lecturing about different technology concepts. The attendees have given phenomenally positive feedback about this learning method.
Now, I find this book that not only validates the process I've been using but helps me take it to the next level. The author reveals the four steps to visual thinking and the six problem categories that we all face. He shows you how to do it with case studies and examples that are practical.
One thing that I think many will find helpful is the way the author quickly removes any fear of drawing you may have. He gives the testimony of many attendees that he has helped overcome this fear of drawing in front of others. Personally, my family plays Pictionary very regularly because I want my children to be comfortable with this process.
My favorite part was the Appendix: The Science of Visual Thinking. I found it very interesting as it presents scientific research as it relates to this simple process.
If you want a great new way to solve problems and a great way to communicate ideas, I think you'll find this book very useful.
Both books are hardcovers and much of the content (including, sadly, the Resources listed in the Appendix) is the same. However, there are a number of important differences between these editions:
At 8.2 x 8 x 1.3 inches, it is bigger than the first edition, which clocked in at 7.1 x 7.1 x 1 inches. While this does allow for the pictures to be bigger and slightly easier to see, it also means a larger, oddly-shaped book to carry around. This only matters if, like me, you like to schlepp your favorite books around and carry them on the bus.
PAGES & TEXT
Includes more pages at 304 pages, rather than the previous edition's 278, making it a mere 0.2 pounds heavier. 10 of those additional 26 pages are the new "Appendix A: The Ten (and a Half) Commandments of Visual Thinking." This is a very useful set of 11 rules of thumb to keep in mind when applying Roam's visual thinking technique. Most, if not all, of these rules are mentioned elsewhere in the book, so don't let this appendix be your only reason for purchasing the newest edition.Read more ›
This is a great book, extremely useful and thought provoking. The structuring of problem-solving into a six by five visual codex makes enormous sense; you can literally see the evolution of the thought processes and the development of the insights take shape through the pages. It is not the kind of book that you can dip into. There is a structure and that structure has to unfold and be assimilated by the reader before there can be any translation into action and effect. I think that there is no "quick fix" for someone who wants to animate or rejuvenate their presentations with a rapid read. The art of solving problems has to be developed through the acquisition of the skills protrayed in these pages. And that takes time and effort. And it also needs a sense of congruity between the visual sense of the author and that of the reader. Pictures can convey so much that words cannot evoke. But some pictures and representations succeed and others fail, otherwise there would be no evolution of art and expression.
Be wary of this book on face value. The editorial recommendations of the book do not necessarily reflect the content. Simply to say, as does one commentator, "So if you want to make a point, do it with images, pictures or graphics.", is true only to a point. It is not necessarily the case for all readers, all viewers and certainly not for all people who need to make a presentation.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I'm a bit late to the Roam philosophy of drawing for business...but it is entertaining and I'm finding it useful.Published 1 month ago by J. Aceti
On the back of a napkin delivers far more than you would expect at first sight. Drawing pictures is something we all understand. However Dan Roam gives much more than this. Read morePublished 2 months ago by G Dik
"The Back of a Napkin" has a great cover and somehow even the inside of the book seems to suggest that this is (supposed to be) an easily digestible book. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Gisela Hausmann
I really enjoyed this book. It's a new way of thinking for me. I always believed that I couldn't draw, but this book made me realize that skill at drawing isn't necessary for... Read morePublished 5 months ago by amazoncust
I'm still working on this one. It's a easy read, I understand what he's teaching, but how he's getting there is a bit hard to follow.Published 6 months ago by Stephen
Amazing ideas. I bought it to learn about infographics, but, I got way more. Illustrations beautifully reinforce concepts. I especially love the 'garage sale approach'!Published 6 months ago by Big AL
Very interessting and well written. Provides an easy to remember toolkit for better presentation based on research and facts. I will certainly use it.Published 7 months ago by Gisle Selnes