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The Idea Shapers: the power of putting your thinking into your own hands Paperback – November 8, 2016
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"Agerbeck's The Idea Shapers shares fresh insights from her years of strategic thinking. It's rare to find a book rich in systems that's clear and applicable right away."
CEO of Duarte, Inc.
and best-selling author
"Once again Brandy Agerbeck provides simple, clear and highly practical guidance for anyone who aspires to excel in visual thinking and facilitation. Brandy is a master practitioner and a natural born teacher. You can't do better than this book."
Founder of XPLANE
and author of Liminal Thinking
"The Idea Shapers is a wonderful, thought-provoking book for anyone who has wondered how visual thinking works. It holds terrific insights into the relationships between writing, drawing, teaching, learning, and making connections across disciplines. It's not just for artists, and not just for writers, it's for anyone who wants to challenge themselves to think in new and fresh ways."
President & CEO,
Chicago Children's Museum
"If, like me, you've stood with mouth agape, in awe of an impossibly, extraordinarily gifted person with the ability to visually explain and to draw pictures to record and even sort-of synthesize what other people are talking about: admit it.
You resent these people.
I did too, until I attended a workshop with Brandy Agerbeck, wherein she completely spilled the beans -- showed us every trick in the book for doing like she does.
THIS IS THAT BOOK.
The Idea Shapers is the most approachable, dishy, memorable, implementable book on drawing in support of understanding and human communication you're going to have read this much of the blurb for: why haven't you clicked "add to cart" yet??"
InformationArchitect and Co-Founder,
TheUnderstanding Group, LLC
"I have read and shared (gifted!) Brandy's first book, The Graphic Facilitator's Guide, and her new book, The Idea Shapers, is going to get the same treatment. As a visual communicator for 35years (I was Director of Information Graphics at Newsweek for a decade), I found myself taking notes on visual storytelling concepts outlined by Brandy. As a teacher, she has a wonderful voice, a straight forward and accessible manner for conveying her knowledge and skills through words and drawings."
Director of Media Sandbox,
Michigan State University
From the Back Cover
Long to feel less overwhelmed? Wish for clarity in your decision making? Looking for lucidity in your thinking? Seeking confidence in your communication?
The simple solution is at your fingertips.
Paper and pen.
In this guide, Brandy Agerbeck reveals drawing as your best thinking tool, making visual thinking attainable and enjoyable through a set of twenty-four Idea Shapers. Each concept combines fine art and facilitation to turn abstract ideas into concrete drawing that help you do great things.
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_Biographical story about why I love this book_
A couple years ago I wanted help with how to use flip charts. A big part of my job is adult training and I know "old school" flip charts help students understand and remember the material.
I searched many ways online and found some of my best resources on YouTube, sometimes in German, which I don't speak. I also bought at least a half-dozen books on visual meetings, drawing, graphic facilitation, and more. All of them gave me a little help and none of them answered my questions. They were a part, but not all of the puzzle. I didn't know enough to do more than copy a few ideas I had seen others do.
Getting serious, I bought specialized markers. [ NOTE: Your tools can make a difference, even when your skills are low. ] I took not 1, but 2 different classes about how to improve my skills. The classes taught me a few more techniques and made a huge difference in how comfortable I feel drawing. [ NOTE: You don't have to be good at this to make a difference. Really. ]
In the end, my students raved, I felt proud, and I wanted more. I knew there were a ton of simple shapes, but I didn't know them. I knew there was more to understand about how to use images, different ways to approach them, why somethings might work differently. I knew there was a way to use pictures, graphics, composition, etc. What I didn't know was how to get from "Uh, something could make this better" to "Wow, that helps clarify the idea."
Brandy's book, The Idea Shapers is the resource I have been waiting for. I could have been much further ahead in my journey with this book. I recently bought multiple copies and I have started to give them as gifts. It's that good.
_About the book itself_
It's huge, clocking in at over 400 pages. It has lots of graphics in gray-scale. If there is any ding against this book it's that there are no color pictures. It might cost a fortune in color, but I have to think it would be worth it.
Part I: This section makes a great case for drawing, how to use it, why simple is better, and the power of getting ideas of of your head and onto paper.
Part II: This section gives you the 5 major ideas about how to capture and arrange your drawings (ideas).
Step 1. Chunk - different ways to capture, organize, use ideas to further your goal
Step 2. Sort & Group - how to arrange & label information into useful clusters
Step 3. Connect & Contain - many ways to express relationships between ideas
Step 4. Scale - how to use size to create organization and influence thinking
Step 5. Grasp - ways to make meaning out of your drawing
Part III: This section is filled with encouragement and permission to take all the ideas and make them your own.
The brain has centers built to process what you hear. The brain has centers built to process what you see. The brain does not have a center to process reading, we've jury rigged this. Spend a little more time on your visuals (drawing, not artwork) and everyone who sees it, including you, will have an easier time understanding the intent. Make people happy, pick up a marker or crayon and draw!
closing note: Edited to fix grammer problem
I do mean a tome. This book goes into detail for each of the 24 idea shapers, providing working examples each step of the way. The five key stages, Chunk, Sort and Group, Connect and Contain, Scale, and Grasp are a great road map. In the Sort and Group section you will see some graphic design tools that may be familiar, and see how important they are in shaping your ideas.
The Idea Shapers are: The Objective, The Landscape, The Stack, The Retort, The Filter, The Flag, The Spectrum, The Cluster, The Buffer, The Banner, The Connector, The Trio, The Flow, The Container, The Anchor, The Lasso, The Fill, The Poster, The Postage Stamp, The Pyramid, The Investigator, The Integrator, The Iterator, and The Activator.
My favorites are The Trio- Choosing shades of color to emphasize and de-emphasize ideas, and The Integrator- Synthesizing your ideas into a cohesive image.
Dig in and practice with these timely lessons for getting your ideas out of your head, on paper and into the world.
One critical note is that when you are ‘in’ the book, it is easy to lose track of the stage your are in. There are not many visual reminders on the page to let you know you are in the Chunking stage, or Connect and Contain, etc. I recommend marking the key page with the visual map, so you can refer back to it easily.
The graphics work well and the author shares her process of using the tools to write the book.
Full disclosure- I reviewed an early copy of the book and have ordered a copy for myself.