A writer from management guru Tom Peters' website recently interviewed Dan Roam, author of the new book, The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures, about visual thinking and how it can help business people to cope with a variety of business challenges, including information overload. While this fascinating interview doesn't specifically mention mind mapping, the principles of visual thinking that it highlights do have relevance to mind mapping:
"We're approaching a perfect storm of information complexity. The only possible way to deal with it is for us to become much more visual in the way we do business. Here's what I mean. Due to globalization, it's becoming increasingly likely that an entire project team won't speak the same language. That's storm number one. Storm number two is information overload. If, 50 or 100 years ago, the greatest decision-making challenge someone faced was not having enough good intelligence, the problem today is the opposite; we have too much information. That's only going to continue to get worse. Storm number three is more complicated communication, due to global supply chains and true global integration of business processes: more channels, more people, more participants, more formats. Combining those three storms... makes getting even the simplest message across to someone very difficult. The good news is that visual thinking presents a way to address each one of these issues. Visuals are independent of language.
"On the information complexity side, visual thinking provides us an incredibly powerful set of tools for looking at complex sets of data... If we use some of the basic tenets of visual thinking, suddenly we find ways to visually triage our way through too much information. Patterns start to come out and we get better at intuitive pattern recognition so that we can more effectively interpret the data."
"Visual thinking is the universal problem-solving tool kit."
I love the concept of "visual triage." It speaks to the idea of sifting through the ideas and information you have collected, determining which elements are the most important, and rearranging them within your map accordingly.
As you know if you've been reading this blog lately, the relationship between information overload and mind mapping is the core theme of my latest e-book, The Mind Mapping Manifesto. Click here to learn more.