Visual thinking is way to organize and work with your ideas creatively, leverage both your left and right brain, and communicate more effectively. Why is it so powerful? Because it appeals to all learning styles:
- Visual (of course!)
- Auditory – sketching and listening
- Reading or writing – word doodles, using different fonts, word pictures
- Social or solitary – sketching on your own or in a team/group environment
- Physical/kinaesthetic – grip and movement
As a result, it can actually increase information retention and recall.
If visual thinking is so powerful, why do we not use it more often in our work? Truth is, most of us have been slowly moving away from scribbling, doodling, sketching or drawing since we were kids. As we have increased our verbal and written language skills, we have let go of developing our visual language skills. In some cases, we have actively disassociated ourselves with our inner artist.
While some bigger companies are able to hire designers to create beautiful illustrations of their business model, their customer journey, or other graphics for marketing, sales or strategic planning purposes, most businesses cannot afford that luxury. You need to work with what you have to create shared understanding and meaning across your team.
In the fine words of Dave Gray, “It’s about using tools — like pen and paper and post-it notes — to externalize your internal thinking processes, making them more clear, explicit, and actionable.” The power of visual thinking for business according to David Sibbet, a world leader in graphic facilitation and visual thinking, is that it:
- Sparks the imagination
- Actively engages people
- Gets people thinking about the big picture
- Helps support group memory and productivity
As an entrepreneur, you can consider how you can integrate visual thinking into your work and create visualizations around your vision, mission, value proposition, or workflow processes with your team to increase clarity and engagement. You can also create visualizations to engage your external stakeholders. If your business is relationship based, you can consider how you can develop visualizations to educate your clients around the solution that is right for them and the process you follow. If you consider the varying learning styles of your clients, including visualizations in your communications could not only educate them better, but also engage them in a unique way.
There are a number of starting points for those interested in tapping into their inner visual thinker:
- Stakeholder mapping – Can you draw a systems map to represent the various stakeholders in your business?
- Client journey mapping – Can you draw a process map of the series of steps involved in how you move a prospect through the buying cycle?
- Workflow mapping – Can you draw a process map to illustrate your service delivery model?
At The Covenant Group, we understand the impact visualizations can have in deepening one’s understanding of a topic and in summarizing the key points of a workshop or presentation. For the past two years at our Pinnacle Conference, we have had the pleasure of working with Patricia Kambitsch from Palythink to create a graphic recordings of the event.