NeboWeb Book Club: Back of the Napkin by Dan Roam

We had our second installment of our book club this week. The entire team read "Back of the Napkin" by Dan Roam. I put together the presentation for this one because it's a topic really love, and I wanted us to all read a book about visual thinking.

We eased into the idea of visual thinking by watching a vintage Kermit the Frog video circa 1966. Then we went through the key high-level ideas from the book that I felt were the most important.

To help bring the lesson to life I walked the group through two visualization exercises:

1) We drew toast.

Yes...I asked everyone to draw "how you make toast". The point being was a) everyone thinks differently and b) they're are multiple ways to communicate successfully with visuals. Drawing a 10 step flow chart of how bread comes out of a bag and ultimately ends up golden brown with jam on it illustrates how you make toast...similarly, the drawing of ordering a piece of toast from a server at a restaurant who is writing down "toast" is ALSO a way to make toast...ish.

2) Next I created what I called a "VISUATHALON!"

This one just really got people up and thinking and drawing - and that was the point. Creating an exercise for eleven people + one white board + twenty mintues = challenging but basically we all came up with words - we swapped words...and we drew them. We didn't end up with a cohesive story told through pictures - but we had a LOT of fun talking about our end result!

Most importantly, everyone had a good time and I think we all got something out of it!

Written by Abie McCauley on March 18, 2009


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Written by
Abie McCauley