- Hardcover: 278 pages
- Publisher: Portfolio Hardcover; 1 edition (March 13, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1591841992
- ISBN-13: 978-1591841999
- Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 1 x 7.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 243 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #440,805 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures 1st Edition
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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.
“As painful as it is for any writer to admit, a picture *is* sometimes 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 businesses that I've worked with. His approach is faster 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 an insight-inspiring picture 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
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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.
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.
The book is a concise course in data presentation/analysis. The chapters can be read at once or as needed. I suggest scanning the book for familiarization with the contents. Then cherry-pick or smorgasbord what you need, when you need it, for who you need it...
If you work in this kind of business situation or are a student with term papers and theses ahead then this book is for you.