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

3.9  ·  Rating details ·  9,417 Ratings  ·  290 Reviews
A bold new way to tackle tough business problems—even if you draw like a second grader

When Herb Kelleher was brainstorming about how to beat the traditional hub-and- spoke airlines, he grabbed a bar napkin and a pen. Three dots to represent Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. Three arrows to show direct flights. Problem solved, and the picture made it easy to sell Southwes
Hardcover, 278 pages
Published March 13th 2008 by Portfolio Hardcover (first published 2008)
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Nov 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 03, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
Sebah Al-Ali
Jul 17, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: summer-10
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
Mar 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: strategy
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
Mar 17, 2011 rated it it was ok
The methods weren't applicable. Forcing them would be a waste of time on my part. What a disappointment.
Ben Love
Dec 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016-rc
Очень полезный скилл - донесение сложной информации простым способом. С этим часто сталкиваются учителя. Но тут автор больше обращается к тем кто продает и решает управленческие задачи. Соответственно все примеры которые автор использует связаны с этим.

Для простого донесения информации слушателю/зрителю автор предлагает использовать простые рисунки, для рисования которых не требуется быть Рембрантом. Но для того чтобы нарисовать все в упрощенном виде, надо вначале самому разобраться с большим и
Jul 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
J Wynia
Aug 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 05, 2013 rated it liked it
على ظهر المنديل، لمؤلفه دان روم
(مترجم)، الناشر مكتبة جرير.

الكتاب يدعو إلى تحسين الجانب الإبداعي والتأمل
والتفكير في حل المشاكل وترويج الأفكار بواسطة الصور والتحدث عنها.

ليس الهدف استبدال الكلمات بالصور بل تعلم اسلوب التفكير البصري الذي هو في الواقع عملية نفعلها جميعا طوال اليوم بدون أن ندركها، وكما قيل "صورة واحدة تساوي ألف كلمة".

الكتاب لا يخلو من رسومات يدوية بسيطة ومعبرة فكل ما تحتاجه في التفكير البصري عبارة عن أدوات وهي العينان واليدان والخيال، أما الطرق التي نرى بها ما حولنا هي (من/ما، كم، أي
Jul 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Susan Connell Biggs
Aug 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: work-related
Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas by Dan Roam is an easy read that helps us think about ways that pictures can help us solve problems. It might be helpful for those of us who like to use visual activities as inquiry tools. Since I'm a visual thinker who often turns to pictures to think things out, this helped me reflect on ways I can further refine my methods. I can imagine it would be helpful for those who don't turn to pictures first, to see how they can be a great way to ...more
Jun 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: design
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. :)
Manuel Frias
Jul 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: visualization
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.
Dec 02, 2009 rated it did not like it
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.
Jun 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
I was surprised by how much I got out of this! Makes a lot of sense from my experience in science and the classroom.
Nov 07, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
“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
David McClendon, Sr
Jan 17, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Dec 26, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Oct 14, 2014 added it
Had to read this for work so in this goes into my book count hahahah. While I think the concept is fantastic but the way it's presented (ironically) is bloated, very theoretical with hardly any practical examples or how-tos and far from simple. Still it's a good concept and I've been employing some of the techniques at work. I've been told Unfolding the Napkin (the workshop version of this book) is a far better read if you want to implement Visual Thinking in your work.
Mar 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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.
Mar 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
...simplicity is king - nice perspective on getting things visualized and communicated....
Klára KlaPi
Další z knih, která by mohla být o třetinu či polovinu kratší a nic by se nestalo...
Feb 22, 2013 rated it it was ok
Základní úvaha o jednodušším vyjádření myšlenek pomocí kreseb je hezká, ale zbylá většina knížky mi přišla jako balast.
Junda Ong
Mar 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Looks of sketches. Easy to look, and see.
Li Li
Sep 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mustread, 2019
The heart of any business is the art of problem solving. Visual thinking takes the full advantage of our innate ability to solving business problem at a whole new level.

The 6 Problems (6 W’)

1. Who and what?
a. Things, people, R&R?
b. What’s going on around me, and where do I fit in?
c. Who is in charge and who else is involved?
2. How much
a. Do you have enough of X to last if we need?
b. How much of X do we need to keep going? If we increase this over here, can we decrease that over there?
3. Wh
Hongbo Shi
Feb 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: visualization
Intuitive way to solve a problem or sell an idea. And all can be done on a set of napkins, avoid the death by PowerPoint! Will definitely try this on next presentations/discussions , whiteboarding or Kopi/coffer sessions.

Enlightening technique to look at problem from multiple angles, each have an equivalent framework to visualise the content: what/who, how much , where, when, how and why,,,, then mesh up with 5x2 ways of seeing/sharing a view: sqvid : simple-elaborate, quantitive-qualitative, v
Nov 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: communication
This books tries to provide a framework to choose an appropriate visualisation for a particular problem and solution. And it does that. However, while I prefer visual explanation over bullet points any day, I cannot say that I have fully embraced the practice. But it is interesting and helpful in creating an impactful and dynamic presentation.
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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.” 10 likes
“Perhaps you’ve been in a similar situation: Asked at the last moment to cover for a colleague, you say yes only to realize that you’ve stepped into your worst nightmare. In this case, my colleague had to leave the office on a medical emergency and pleaded with me to cover for a speech he had to deliver the following day. I said yes, only to learn later that the speech was to take place in Sheffield, England (we were in New York), to an audience of educational experts appointed by the then-new British prime minister, Tony Blair. My colleague hadn’t told me what the topic was—something about the Internet—or where his materials (if there were any) were buried.” 0 likes
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