Putting Visual Thinking to Work

Much like other crossover sensations from the creative world such as design thinking and information design, the visual thinking phenomenon has sustained interest for some time now. But behind its glowing promise, a challenge persists for many in the business world: How can you harness the power of visual thinking to achieve real results?

A number of guiding lights provide practical instruction and systems for learning core visual thinking principles, yet there is still room to close the gap between the vision of vizthink and everyday workplace realities.

It’s easy to think that beautifully penned sketchnotes or delightfully illustrated graphic recordings are the hallmark of good visual thinking: they demonstrate great technical skill and creativity, and they certainly appeal to the eye. In reality, they might only succeed at just the visual part while providing little insight or fuel for the thinking part. Quite often, the artistic production of these visual artifacts takes precedence over the process that they support and the outcomes they are meant to deliver. To be blunt, if a visual fails to convey an idea clearly, enhance understanding (for oneself and for a group), inform decisions, or drive toward a goal, then it benefits no one.

Visual thinking is more than just drawing for the sake of drawing, capturing something for posterity, or aiding memory. It boosts our capacity to process information and create new knowledge by enabling specific cognitive tasks. In a business context, visual thinking facilitates knowledge work in teams by dissolving communication barriers and allowing many different minds to work together towards a common goal. It is the glue of human collaboration.

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