B2B Book Buzz: The Back of the Napkin

I tend to doodle. Sometimes in meetings at our advertising agency, I scribble my interpretations of the speakers’ highlights, kind of enhanced note taking. While observing others with this similar habit, I became curious how doodling can affect or boost the creative process.

B2B Book Buzz: The Back of the NapkinDrawn by its unique diminutive height, hand-lettered title and stick figures, I thought The Back of the Napkin-Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures was a playful response to my scribbling ideation question. I found it to be so much more.

Business presentations are inclined to rely on professional graphics, fancy graphs, and slick tools to get their point across. Author Dan Roam suggests that sometimes the most effective way to make your case is to whip out a napkin (or whiteboard) and start drawing. This book contains instruction and useful examples to get your message across simply and effectively.

With an initial survey that wittily assesses personal visual thinking tendencies, The Back of the Napkin guides you through various exercises that help develop the process of visual thinking. Almost every page contains simple diagrams to bring each point across to the reader.

The book asserts that the visual process contains four phases:

Look: Orient yourself and know which way is up, where you are, and identify.

See: Explore the five W’s (who, what, when, where and why), plus how many.

Imagine: (SQVID): simple, quality, vision, individual attributes, delta (change).

Show: Telling the story with visuals.

Dan Roam encourages readers to have the courage to use a more informal drawing style (away from the computer) to get to the essence of problems, focused not on form but on content.

Ironically, it is a bit long-winded in some descriptions and perhaps overdone and complex with the SQVID (simple, quality, vision, individual, change) method acronym. But the elementary hand-drawn diagrams gently coax understanding and clarity, which is the book’s overall message.

The Back of the Napkin’s concepts should not replace high-end, quality proposals or presentations. Instead, they can simplify and clarify the message you have, and allow you to share it in a fraction of the time. It’’s one of those books that you should read a couple times, and then store it on your shelf as ready reference. Everytime time you re-read it, you will be spurred into creatively presenting new ideas as drawings and perhaps doodle with more imagination.

BtoB BUZZ Rating 5 Out of 5 Petals