The Back of the Napkin (Expanded Edition): Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures
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The Back of the Napkin (Expanded Edition): Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  5,131 ratings  ·  201 reviews
The acclaimed bestseller about visual problem solving-now bigger and better
"There is no more powerful way to prove that we know something well than to draw a simple picture of it. And there is no more powerful way to see hidden solutions than to pick up a pen and draw out the pieces of our problem."
So writes Dan Roam in "The Back of the Napkin," the international bests...more
ebook, 304 pages
Published December 1st 2009 by Portfolio (first published 2008)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Nathan
A third of the way through this book, I was afraid that it would be nothing more than another "here's how to present information graphically: you have hue, intensity, etc. to work with" beginner book on design. I've read several and they have completely failed to stick.

But now I'm 80% of the way through and I see this book is not that at all. Instead, it's a way of tackling difficult problems by creating the "picture worth a thousand words" that gets your point across. The author tells you to lo...more
Roz
There are two things I didn't really enjoy with this book. One isn't really the fault of the author as such, it's more my fault for reading it. I'm in a creative industry and read this as part of a industry bookclub I attend. I think I thought it would be more about methods of thinking visually and tips and techniques - turns out it much more aimed at management consultants and offers problems solving methods with a visual skew.

The second aspect that I didn't like was the convienience of it all...more
Christopher
Yes, you should read this book. The content is excellent and useful. If you have any desire to be a better problem solver or a better communicator, then I believe you will find this book useful. Especially if you are in any sort of leadership role.

Stylistically, Dan writes as if he is speaking; a trait that seems to prevail among many author who are also speakers. That got in a way a few times, but it was a small annoyance.
Gene Babon
This book is my third and final candidate for best business book I read in 2009. The first two were:

Strengths-Based Leadership
Talent is Overrated

This book resonated with me because of my current role as technology instructor. I am challenged almost daily with presenting sometimes complex concepts to design students who sometimes respond that they don't understand by stating "I'm a visual person."

This book helped me appreciate the value of telling a story with pictures and how to ask the right qu...more
Ben Love
I sat last week with an 18 page strategy document I’d created knowing I would be the only person who would actually read it (and only because I forced myself to). The first time I read the original version of this book, it was an ebook. I got the concepts, they stuck and it made a lot of sense.
This time around I bought a paper copy in the morning and spent five hours reading through it with my strategy document beside me. The result was a series of decks that broke down the primary concepts in d...more
 Amina
The methods weren't applicable. Forcing them would be a waste of time on my part. What a disappointment.
Sebah
الكاتب كتابته سلسة جدا و ممتعة. و تنسيق الكتاب نفسه جذاب لا يتسم بالرتابة المملة التي يتصف بها القالب التقليدي للكتب. تعلمت الكثير، و أظن أن الأفكار التي وردت في الكتاب يكمن جمالها في قابلية تطبيقها في مختلف المجالات و الأمور. يمكن فهمها على أنها منظار عملي لمعالجة الظروف الحياتية، بشكل عام، من خلاله.

أعجبتني كثيرا فكرة أن أي مشكلة أو ظرف يمكن حلها من منظور "الست أسئلة": 1. من و ماذا. 2. كم. 3. متى. 4. أين. 5. كيف. 6. لمَ.
هي فكرة بسيطة إن تمعنا بها، لكن غالبا ما نغفل عن تطبيقها في حل المشكلات أو...more
David E McClendon, Sr
I read The Back of the Napkin (Expanded Edition) on my Amazon Kindle Basic. While I love to read books on my Kindle, I would have to say that charts and most pictures are basically lost when using the Kindle. That being said, I have to say I enjoyed the book.

This book takes the reader on a little journey. Dan Roam shows us how he came up with the concept of using simple, basic, pictures drawn by hand to illustrate the concepts he was wishing to convey to his audiences.
Our author gives us severa...more
Jorge
“The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures” explores the power an image can yield as a conveyor of ideas or concepts. Although it was recommended to me as a friendly way to learn about modeling languages (a rather work related topic), its not at all a technical book. Instead it aims to convey its ideas to the general public, demystifying the use of our innate visual thinking. By a series of business stories the author describes how simple sketches over a napkin (or...more
J Wynia
Given how much time I spend at a whiteboard, I've often contemplated how to more effectively use that tool. A really well drawn diagram, particularly if it's accompanied by both a good analogy and a good example ends up hitting nearly all of the learning styles in a given room.

The Back of the Napkin was recommended to me as a really good book for how to improve whiteboard diagrams. That recommendation wasn't ill-founded. This approach gives a nicely structured system for how to diagram most comm...more
Brian
This was an fantastic book and it should be required reading for anybody in business.

The subject is all about visual thinking (a very Lean concept) but it also provides a great framework for critical thinking. Mixing the two will provide outstanding results.

Immediate benefit I see from this book: SHORTER MEETINGS!

By making things visual, it will be easier to direct conversations to the issue SEEN in front of them (not just "stick to what I am talking about"). With visual thinking, you can have h...more
irfan darian
A great read for those who are more visual in our communication with others. This book does attempt to give a guide of sorts of how one can communicate his or her ideas effectively. The ideas given are fresh, and I do find them directly applicable to those who are either more suited to these kind of communication media, or for those who wants to add a little zing to their presentation. But one aspect that I do find this book lacking is the seemingly technical details that it is trying to force o...more
Lain
The concept of this book is teaching everyone -- not just artistic types -- to use images effectively for presentations and persuasion. I love the concept, and there were some awesome, quotable sections (I especially liked the difference between LOOKING and SEEING).

I think it's extremely difficult to cover this topic thoroughly and effectively in a book format. I would love to attend a live seminar by the author, as seeing him present the concepts in real time would give me a much better handle...more
Mo Tipton
Absolutely loved it. While the author's expertise is in business, and as such the examples relate to solving problems and selling ideas in a business context, there's no reason why these techniques couldn't be used to figure out how you and your partner can save enough money to take a trip next year or to explain to your friend why she should get out of her crappy relationship.

Plus, I found it fascinating to learn more about how our brains take in visual information and how it's processed, and...more
jeremy
This is a great book that teaches you how to frame problems and communicate them better visually.

The author goes beyond the "here's the top 3 things to do" lists that I'm accustomed to in most business productivity books. He pulls in various research which breaks down how we process and communicate information which will be a refresh for some and completely new to others.

I highly recommended this book for anyone who has to use their brain for a living...which would include everyone. :)
Jon
Another business book that starts with a great idea in the first pages and then proceeds to beat it to death for the last 250+ pages. I thought it was going to be a useful resource on how to use visual thinking and drawing to attack problems, but it was actually not very helpful or informative.
Richard
Dan Roam introduces interesting concepts, with scientifically inferred backing and shows how they can be applied. He gives a good guide to visual thinking process we go through naturally.

It will give a toolkit I will pull on when (visually) thinking through problems.
David Marr
About halfway through this. Definitely pick up if you have business ideas that need a boost in clarity/definition. This helps identify all the key pieces to making solid products and gives your imagination a kick in the butt.
Manolo Frias
This is for me the most inspiring book about visual thinking so far. Dan Roam doesn't only explain why we all should solve problems with pictures. He even explains how to do it in an engaging and, of course, visual way.
Greg
This book offers so much, and I knew as I finished that I didn't spend as much time with it as I should in order to really grasp the points Roam made. We are visual thinkers, and we all need to learn to think and share using pictures.

Regardless of your drawing ability, this book is worth reading. More than ever we live in a time that the ability to interpret data and present it in a simple/visual way is increasingly more important.

What I want to spend time with is using pictures as a way to ex...more
Vaclav
Základní úvaha o jednodušším vyjádření myšlenek pomocí kreseb je hezká, ale zbylá většina knížky mi přišla jako balast.
Gerold
...simplicity is king - nice perspective on getting things visualized and communicated....
Erik van Berkum
It's already getting a bit dated. This book was long time on my to read list and finally managed to read it. The book could be a 50 to 100 page shorter. The first chapters are very nice and give some new insights on how our mind works and how you convert this to pictures. I am a huge fan of presentation Zen from Garr Reynolds and by reading the back of the Napkin it becomes easier for me to construct presentation slides which Garr is proposing to make in his book. I have nothing against drawing...more
Junda Ong
Looks of sketches. Easy to look, and see.
Eric Beaty
Jul 24, 2014 Eric Beaty rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone seeking to engage their creative minds to solve their problems
I always seem to refer back to and sing the praises of this inspiring, absolutely necessary book. Dan Roam opens the eyes of people who "can't draw" everywhere and takes them on a delightful journey of how using pictures can actually help us solve our problems in business, finances, and many other aspects of life.

Found out about this while browsing my local Books-A-Million store and had to have it right away. I used to draw when I was a kid and just decided one day I didn't want to anymore becau...more
Patrick
Title: The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures
Author: Dan Roam
Category: Thinking Framework/Brainstorming
Audience: Anyone who has to solve problems or convince others of their
solutions

Abstract:
In The Back of the Napkin, Dan Roam takes us step-by-step through Discovering Ideas, Developing Ideas, and Selling Ideas using a visual thinking framework. He identifies the Four Steps of Visual Thinking, describes the Six Ways of Seeing, provides a set of contrasting ways o...more
Ed
Wow.
Mr. Roam teaches a skill that I wish I learned growing up. As a kinesthetic learner, being able to physically participate in an educational experience is crucial for me to learn. This book lays out a fantastic framework for why drawing problems and ideas is an invaluable skill. The only thing that was missing in this book in my opinion was a way to practice what Mr. Roam was teaching. Sure, the case study of the accounting software company was useful, but I need more repetition and more exe...more
Dirk
“The Back of the Napkin” von Dan Roam war eigentlich ein Pflichtkauf. Ich bin seit langem Fan von seinem Blog, der immer für viele, viele tolle Visualisierungen und Anschauungsmaterialien gut ist. Sein Buch beschäftigt sich indes mit genau diesem Thema: “Probleme lösen und Ideen verkaufen mit Hilfe von Bildern”.

Im Buch wird, nach einer kurzen Einleitung, zunächst einmal das Grundgerüst vorgestellt: was ist Visualisierung? Warum funktioniert Vsualisierung? Wie kann ICH Visualisierungen erstellen?...more
Emily
When I was in business school, one of the best courses I took was taught by a statistics professor, Dr. Elizabeth Murff, on how to present quantitative information effectively in visual formats. Every class brought new, applicable knowledge and understanding as to how best to get my data-supported point across. Dr. Murff was especially good at finding real world examples to illuminate her points, such as when she showed us the data on the Challenger explosion, how NASA should have known not to l...more
Debra
Take your pick. There are a lot of self-help biz books out there that present tools, this is one of them - from understanding how the mind works to creative output and resolution. The science of it isn't new, try Edward De Bono. Tony Buzan gives you mind mapping, Dan Roam gives you visual mapping.

Is it enough to win the pitch? One-on-one yes but in the end, you still need documentation. This is just a simpler way to present and explain, already used by people in creative fields.

Is it applicabl...more
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Blah Blah Blah: What To Do When Words Don't Work Unfolding the Napkin: The Hands-On Method for Solving Complex Problems with Simple Pictures Show and Tell: How Everybody Can Make Extraordinary Presentations Sul retro del tovagliolo. Come risolvere problemi e vendere idee con le immagini

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“Any problem can be made clearer with a picture, and any picture can be created using the same set of tools and rules.” 5 likes
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