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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 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
As the president of Digital Roam Inc., Dan Roam has helped leaders at Microsoft, Google, Wal-Mart, the Federal Reserve, Boeing, and the U.S. Senate solve complex problems through visual thinking. Dan and his whiteboard have appeared on CNN, MSNBC, ABC News, Fox News, and NPR. He lives in San Francisco.
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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.
Back of the Napkin is the "how" and "why" of communicating with your customer, team or prospect. As the title suggests it is a very visual book with many images, acronyms and approaches on how to draw and have a conversation versus death by powerpoint. By traversing through the 6 "W" questions (i.e. What, Who, When, Why, Where and How), Dan Roam provides a stock set of templates on how to visualise this to provide impact in your conversation. Very well worth a read!
Three key takeaways from the book:
1. People like seeing other people’s pictures. In most presentation situations, audiences respond better to hand-drawn images (however crudely drawn) than to polished graphics; as long as you're credible that is
2. Look, see, imagine and show is the four step process to getting visual. You don't need to be a phenomenal drawer because there are templated approaches for any situation
3. Visual thinking is where it is at. We need to take advantage of our innate ability to see both with our eyes and our mind's eyes.
Fair amount of work, but wonderful, wonderful insights into how to "say" what I was trying to "say" in my slick PowerPoint slides. The book and tools hold your hand into much greater understanding and appreciation of how people think and receive information - and how thinking through the situation/opportunity/challenge using the BOTN methodology makes things clearer to both presenter and presentee.
I've found that in my workplace in silicon valley, everyone appreciates people who can use the whiteboard effectively to demonstrate ideas, track status or discuss problems. Interviews, meetings, trainings, demonstrations - you can express yourself so much better if you use a whiteboard. But information with some basic guidelines and a framework on how to draw was hard to come by - and almost all the folks I've worked with are no better at drawing or explaining themselves visually than I am.
Then coincidently around the same, Dan Roam was invited in to give an hour long lecture at my company. I was quite fascinated when I watched the lecture- this guy really knew how to do it! As soon as I learned that he had books out there, i bought em all and I'm now half way through the first one.
I really really like the way the book is structured and the examples he's used. Like any new skill one learns, you have to make it a point to practice - even copy the diagrams in the first few chapters that he uses to get you used to drawing.
The layout and design of this book is very well done. You do feel like you're reading a book written by someone with a design background. The material is very lucid, non-academic and the examples are compelling.
Will add more to the review once I've completed the book.