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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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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."
"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.
Top customer reviews
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Dan Roam starts simply enough, almost patronizingly simple. Then the complexities of advanced application kick in. And it's not limited to conveying information visually - there's also an aspect of using pictures to solve the problems your facing by working through them in logically visual ways.
This book has varying depths for the different intelligence levels of its readers. I'm sure I won't get all the benefits that wiser practitioners will get, but it won't be a result of my innate lack of drawing ability.
Dan Roam is visually summarizing in four sections how to step through problem solving tasks.
Part I is a general introduction into problem solving.
Part II is about discovering the ideas.
Part III is developing the ideas to a business plan and
Part IV is about how to showcase your presentation and sell the idea.
What makes this book different is the fact that Dan is using visual clues to solve the problems.
In all parts of the book he is vigorously running through each of the below questions
How many ...
and emphasizes the importance and the impact of the answers to it.
He is using the "Look,see, imagine and show" steps to explain whats is actually happening when a problem is analyzed, defined, a solution prepared and it must be "sold" to the upper management to get the go ahead.
I can easily see how this book opens up a completely new marcet f.e. for
instructors and junior business consultants.
Instructors for teaching those people that want to understand what they have missed so far and junior consultants because it visually combines their analytical skills, selective filtering skills and presentational skills and makes them explicitely aware of them and how to apply them.
It is interesting to see how Dan is able in Part III to "simplify" and demystify the open source <--> closed source issue any software company is facing.
That alone must be worth the book for any software company.
What Dan is really show casing is what good analysts already call their own:
- analytical skills
- context sensitive expertise
- selective filtering skills
Explicitly visualizing the problem solving steps in slow motion is a powerful weapon that will give you an edge over your competition.
I suggest you read the book three times.
First to get an overview.
Second to let it sink in and
Third to finetune.
Its one of those books that will give you new aspects everytime you read it.
As a Business Process and Management Reporting Consultant, I have been recommending this book this year to the business modelers that I train. Business people love to "show their stuff" by displaying complicated process models and business diagrams, sometimes spending as long as an hour explaining what it means.
BIG MISTAKE!!! If you can't get people to understand your model or picture in the first glance or two, your point will lose impact and you could miss getting your message across.
Almost every page contains simple diagrams to bring each and every point across to the reader. I would have given this book 5 stars, except the author tried to create a methodology and acronym SQVID that missed the mark by being too complex. Also, the "how to" example could have been better - and given the author an opportunity to really showcase his methodology's effectiveness.
Read this book - and after you finish, read "Make it Stick." These two books together will help you become more effective with business communications.