The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures

Dan Roam, Author . Penguin/Portfolio $24.95 (278p) ISBN 978-1-59184-199-9

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)

Reviewed on: 12/03/2007
Release date: 03/01/2008
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