Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The Age of the Picture / Mind Map

Interesting discussion about how pictures, no really pictures drawn on a napkin, are are all the rage among management consultants and corporate strategists. The age of the mind map is here to stay and bounded rationality has finally reared its head to the point where companies are beginning to realize that more data is not necessarily better.

You ought to be in pictures. No, really. Companies are increasingly using simple pictures to distill complicated concepts into easily shared, easily remembered nuggets. "Graphic expression and visual thinking are a central part of human cognition," says Neil Cohn, a researcher in cognitive psychology and linguistics at Tufts University. These ideas are spreading from how companies sell what they do -- as in UPS's "Whiteboard" ad campaign, featuring its agency's creative director sketching out what brown can do for you -- to plotting strategy. For example, Mark Zuckerberg has said that Facebook is based on the "social graph," a visual model of how people interact.

"Between information overload, globalization, and the sheer complexity of modern business, we've got to be more visual and less language dependent in communicating ideas," says Dan Roam, a visual consultant who advises major organizations such as eBay, Wells Fargo, and the U.S. Navy. (His book about how to use pen-and-paper sketches to your benefit, The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures, was published in March.) Flip the page for four instances in which Roam's clients forced their thoughts into pictures with great success.

Fast Company April 2008

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