- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: Portfolio; 1 edition (December 29, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9781591843191
- ISBN-13: 978-1591843191
- ASIN: 1591843197
- Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.7 x 9.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 42 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #304,778 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Unfolding the Napkin: The Hands-On Method for Solving Complex Problems with Simple Pictures Paperback – December 29, 2009
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"In 2008, Roam's The Back of the Napkin soaked up some book-of-the-year love from The Financial Times, Businessweek and Amazon.com. Roam's point was that problems can be better solved by drawing simple pictures, regardless of artistic ability. It's easier to see solutions visually, and it's also the revealing process of physically diagramming a problem, the argument goes.
To discover truly breakthrough ideas, intuitively develop those ideas and share those ideas effectively with others, we need pictures," Roam writes.
Since then, the management consultant and his Sharpies have conducted workshops at an impressive list of organizations, including Boeing, Pfizer, Google, Microsoft, Wal-mart and the U.S. Senate. Now, with Unfolding the Napkin, Roam squeezed his four-day workshop into a workbook so everyone can follow along.
It's a simple concept, but when Roam arrives at a solution for last year's economic crisis by drawing intersecting circles representing financial services, the auto industry and declining energy supplies, it's clear that Napkin is nothing to sneeze on.
-USA Today, Jan. 4, 2010
Whoever draws the best picture of a problem is the most likely to solve it.
Dan Roam offers a simple explanation about how to draw a problem/solution picture.
Draw a circle in the upper left corner of a sheet of paper and label it me. Draw a cloud-shaped circle in the lower left; label it my problem. Draw the shape of a closed Swiss army knife on the center of the page. Add and label "blades" (what you see, what to look for, what if..., how, when, where, why, how much, etc.) that deal with me and my problem. Those blades help you think of others that will help identify the problem, alternatives and solution.
What Roam drew on one page took me 90 words to describe, by the way.
-The Dallas Morning News, Dec. 26, 2009
About the Author
Dan Roam is the internationally bestselling author of five books on visual communication, including The Back of the Napkin, Blah Blah Blah, and Show and Tell, and is the founder of the Napkin Academy, the world's first online visual-thinking training program. He has helped leaders at Microsoft, Boeing, eBay, Kraft, Gap, IBM, the US Navy, the US Senate, and the White House solve complex problems with simple pictures. Dan and his whiteboard have appeared on CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, Fox, and NPR.
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I read this book and enjoyed it, but I didn't get the full value of the content until I went back and worked the exercises. Though I don't remember what SQVID stands for or any of the other organizing schemes that Roam uses, I really did learn something from his very original presentation of simple visual thinking tools.
In the process of working through the exercises in the book, I distilled the complexities of my work into four intuitive pictographs. My boss at the time hated these pictographs for some reason, but the value of the pictographs was demonstrated conclusively a few weeks later. I was presenting an overview of our processes and methods to a group of visitors from Turkey. Although they all spoke English as a second language, all of the text-based materials fell flat. The lightbulbs of understanding lit up all around the room when the discussion turned to those four silly pictographs though.
Unfolding the Napkin is a quick, fun, and useful read.
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.
1. There is no more powerful way to discover a new idea than to draw a simple picture.
2. There is no faster way to develop and test an idea than to draw a simple picture.
3. There is no more effective way to share an idea with other people than to draw a simple picture.
In this book and in its predecessor, On the Back of the Napkin, Dan Roam explains how to achieve these objectives by (you guessed it) drawing a series of simple pictures. "To complete the workshop, you'll need three things...This book is your primary tool; please expect to draw in it and generally muck it up - that's what it's for. [Also,] please bring your own magic wand with you to class. My own favorites are a plain no. 2 pencil, a Sharpie, or a Pilot pen." Although Roam encourages his reader to use the book as a workbook and add annotations throughout, he also suggests using something to draw on, everything from several pages of blank scratch paper provided at the back of the book to a small personal whiteboard (i.e. small "lap board"). My own preference is the "Original Marble Cover 50-Sheets" composition book that costs less than $2 each.
Roam provides various "tools" that are essential to the visual problem-solving process and explains how and when to use them. For example, he unfolds the material for Day #1 of what he suggests be a self-contained four-day course to master that process, with one day devoted to each of four components: Looking, Seeing, Imagining, and Showing. In the first, "Looking" (Pages 3-52), he includes these "Drawing Drill Exercises":
o Name Three Problems (S,M,L)
o Draw "Me"
o Our First Napkin Sketch (Swiss Army Knife)
o How Much Is 75 Percent, Really?
o Which Color Is Your Pen?
o Active Looking, Exercise 1
o Active Looking, Exercise #2
He also includes "Unwritten Rule #1: Whoever is best able to describe the problem is the person most likely to solve it."
Roam's various illustrations and "Drawing Drill Exercises" complement the narrative but his primary focus is on rock-solid content that explains with lively eloquence HOW to draw simple pictures that help to "articulate problems."
In fact, they articulate much more than problems: triangular relationships (e.g. product, consumer, and competition), juxtaposition of similarities and differences (e.g. upside and downside implications), and map segments (e.g. for process simplification initiatives). Those who can draw a square, a circle, a stick figure, and an arrow connecting them "can draw any picture in this book" and, more to the point, draw any other picture that may be needed to "articulate abundantly more clearly" whatever the given situation may be.
Whereas The Back of the Napkin introduces the core concepts of the visual problem-solving (or whatever-solving) process, Unfolding the Napkin develops and extends the same concepts to wider, deeper, and more valuable applications. Yes, Dan Roam really does take a "hands-on" approach...and the hands belong to his reader. Bravo!
b) A great tool to take along with your laptop at work
c) A training methodology for your team. They will enjoy and appreciate it.