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The Power Of Visual Thinking

Man looking at board with writing and painting
Photo by Peshkova from Getty Images/Canva Pro

Ten years ago, I discovered the power of visual thinking. Visuals simplify and enhance my thoughts, help me grasp complexity, and improve my memory.

This realization has been life-changing. Through incorporating more visual thinking into my work, I've learned that we are all visual thinkers to varying degrees, but we haven't been trained to leverage it effectively, especially in the business world.

So, of course, I incorporated some of the visual principles I learned in my book Fire Up Innovation.

Table of contents from my book
Table of contents from my book

In the example above, you can see how I created a more visual table of contents with each chapter having a different color notes , which will be matching to the unique color used in each chapter.

In the book, I used visuals to interact with the reader, make the book more engaging and help remember the stories, tips and practices. Each chapter uses a different color, and different sections have their own icons.

Here are some simple ideas to incorporate more visual thinking into your everyday personal and team tasks. These will boost efficiency, communication, alignment, and speed.

  • Make your slides more visual: Use visuals to complement your presentation, rather than repeating what you say.

  • Take notes using mind mapping. Sitting at a conference years ago, I noticed my neighbor taking notes in a way I never seen and using a set of color markers. After talking to her I learned about mind-mapping originally created by Tony Buzan. Using mind mapping has changed my life as I now take all my notes (be at conferences or meetings) as a mind-maps and use different colors to distinguish different areas of my notes. For example I put in red the action items, blue for data...I also use the app Nebo and a stylus so all my notes are hand written, yet they are nicely organize by notebook on my ipad and I can search my handwriting to find the information I need.

  • Describe ideas through drawings instead of words.

  • Use flip charts and white boards to capture all the information in one place. Particularly useful for virtual teams, on-line white boards replace the physical “war rooms” and keep all the elements of a project in one place. In addition they can be used for asynchronous work which is a great way to be more efficient in a project. I use Mural but there are a lot of other options including a white board on zoom (which I personally think is too basic but can be of help during a meeting)

  • Create flowcharts instead of lengthy explanations.

  • Simplify and improve recollection by using color coding when taking notes or different colors of post-it notes for each category.

  • Enhance meeting effectiveness by visually capturing discussion points, decisions, and next steps on a shared chart.

  • Give everyone a voice by using physical or virtual sticky notes. Start silently to give introverts a chance, share all notes, and display them on a wall or easel sheet to ensure equal weight for everyone's thoughts. This also is a time saver as it allows parallel thinking rather than talking one person at a time.

  • Highlight commonalities through clustering exercises, focusing on similarities rather than getting caught up in details and differences.

  • Use drawings to represent ideas or arguments, visualizing the customer journey, or mind mapping to make sense of information and avoid wordsmithing and semantic discussion.

By embracing visual thinking, you can unlock new levels of creativity and productivity. Give it a try and witness the positive impact on your work and team collaboration.


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