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The Back of the Napkin
      Workshop




Solving Problems with Pictures

                  Dan Roam
    MIX08 :: UX03 :: March 5, 2008 :: The Venetian
Visual thinking: what problems, what pictures, and who is
          „we‟?




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2008 © Dan Roam   THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
Rather than draw this:




                                                               Let‟s draw this:




                                                                                  3
2008 © Dan Roam   THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
Rather than focus on this:




                                                               Let‟s focus on this:




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2008 © Dan Roam   THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
Exercise 1: the Who is „We‟ self-assessment




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2008 © Dan Roam   THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
a) I‟m in a brainstorming session in a conference room that
          has a big whiteboard. I want to:




                         1. Go to the board, pick up a pen and start drawing circles and boxes.
                         2. Try to decipher whatever is already written on the board.
                         3. Go to the board and start writing categorized lists.
                            Add a little clarification to what’s already up there – you know, to make
                         4.
                            it clearer.
                         5. Forget the whiteboard – come on here, people, we’ve got work to do!
                         6. I hate brainstorming sessions.
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2008 © Dan Roam   THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
b) Someone hands me a pen and asks me to sketch out a
          particular idea. I:




                                    1.       Ask for more pens, preferably in at least three colors.
                                    2.       Just start sketching and see what emerges.
                                             Say, “I can’t draw, but…” and then make a horrible stick figure.
                                    3.
                                    4.       Start by writing a few words, then putting boxes around them.
                                    5.       Put the pen on the table and start talking.
                                             Say, “No thanks, I can’t draw”, and leave it at that.
                                    6.

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2008 © Dan Roam   THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
c) Someone hands me a complicated spreadsheet and
          asks me to look it over. I first:




          1. Glaze over and hope it will go away.
          2. Flip through the pages and see if something – I dunno, whatever – pops up.
          3. Read across the top of the columns or down each row in order, to identify
             the categories.
          4. Select a row and column at random and follow them to the data cell, then
             look for similar (or different) data results in other cells.
          5. Look for the largest or smallest values I can find, then trace them back to
             identify them.
          6. Notice that OPEX variance to budget is down for the second quarter in a
                    row.

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2008 © Dan Roam   THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
d) On my way home from a conference, I see a cute fellow
          attendee at the airport cafe, and he or she asks me what I
          do. I:




          1. Grab a napkin and ask the waiter if I can borrow a pen.
          2. Pick up three packs of Sweet-n-Low, lay them on the bar, point to one and
             say, “Okay, this is me over here, and this is the customer over here…”
          3. Pull out a page from my PowerPoint deck – a really good page – and start
             walking through it.
          4. Start to recite my original job description: “There are three things that I
             do…”.
          5. “What I do? Well, better buy another round, because we’re going to be
             talking a while.”
          6. Say it’s too complicated to explain well, but ask him/her the same question.

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2008 © Dan Roam   THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
f) I‟m an astronaut floating in space. The first thing I do is:




                                          1.       Take a deep breath, relax, and take in the whole view.
                                          2.       Pull out my camera.
                                                   Try to spot my house… or at least my continent.
                                          3.
                                          4.       Start describing what I see.
                                          5.       Close my eyes.
                                          6.       Find a way to get back into my spacecraft.
                                                                                                            10
2008 © Dan Roam   THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
Now comes the math, I‟m afraid…




                                            5-14                   15-20               21-30
                                                   On a napkin, write your pen COLOR, and then…
                                                                                                  11
2008 © Dan Roam   THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
Napkin exercise, step 1


          Draw a
          circle and
          call it
          “me”…




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2008 © Dan Roam   THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
Step 1b


          Now draw
          another
          circle
          (more like
          a cloud)
          and give it
          a name,
          too…




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2008 © Dan Roam   THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
So, which problems shall we look at…




                                                               14
2008 © Dan Roam   THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
What‟s the business strategy challenge?




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2008 © Dan Roam   THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
Put into words…


          The challenge:
           A new strategic vision
           A refined company
            mission
           A new operating
            philosophy
           New retail fundamentals
           New store standards
           New customer practices
           New training materials

          +

          100 new staff every
            month…




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2008 © Dan Roam   THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
How about a napkin map?




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2008 © Dan Roam   THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
Product development: Why are we collecting all these
          numbers?




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2008 © Dan Roam   THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
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2008 © Dan Roam   THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
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2008 © Dan Roam   THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
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2008 © Dan Roam   THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
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2008 © Dan Roam   THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
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2008 © Dan Roam   THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
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2008 © Dan Roam   THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
What are the three things the CFO does want to look at?




                                                                      Financial
                                                                      Drivers




                                                               Date               Org
                                                               Cut                Unit




                                                                                         25
2008 © Dan Roam   THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
So, what might *that* look like…




                                                               26
2008 © Dan Roam   THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
Or, when executed in Expression Blend…




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2008 © Dan Roam   THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
Step 3


          Draw in
          the last
          circle, only
          make this
          one more
          of a
          hotdog…

          then add in
          a+
          symbol…
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2008 © Dan Roam   THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
Step 3


          The
          universal
          visual
          thinking
          problem
          solving
          toolkit…

          Draw in
          the first set
          of 3
          blades…
                                                               29
2008 © Dan Roam   THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
3 parts or ourselves to improve




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2008 © Dan Roam   THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
Step 4


          Draw in
          the next
          set of
          blades,
          this time 4
          of them…




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2008 © Dan Roam   THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
Let‟s think about „process‟ for a moment…




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2008 © Dan Roam   THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
The 4 steps of visual thinking:




                                                                  How can I manipulate      This is what I saw, and
        What is out there?             What do I see?
                                                                  these patterns?           this is what I think it
        What am I looking at?          Have I seen this before?                             means.
                                                                  Can I fill in the gaps?
        What are the limits?           What patterns emerge?
                                                                                            Is this what I
                                                                  Have I seen enough –      expected… or not?
        Which way is up?               What stands out?
                                                                  or do I need to go back
                                       What seems to be           and look at more?         When you look at this,
                                                                                            do you see the same
                                       missing?
                                                                                            things?




                                                                                                                  33
2008 © Dan Roam, all rights reserved
Step 5


          Now draw
          in a
          corkscrew,
          and give it 5
          twists…




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2008 © Dan Roam   THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
*whew*                             Time for a break on the islands…




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2008 © Dan Roam   THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
How about ten apples?




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2008 © Dan Roam   THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
Meet the SQVID… a.k.a „The 5 focusing questions‟




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2008 © Dan Roam   THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
Two ways to use the SQVID




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2008 © Dan Roam   THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
SQV.. examples:




                                                                Qualitativ
                           Simple
                                                                               Vision
                                                                      e

                       Elaborate
                                                               Quantitative   Execution




                                                                                          39
2008 © Dan Roam   THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
..ID examples…




                                                                              Delta
                                                                            (change)
                                                               Individual

                                                                            Status-
                                                                               Quo
                                                               Comparis
                                                                  on




                                                                                       40
2008 © Dan Roam   THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
Step 6


          Now draw
          in the last
          set of 6
          blades…




                                                               41
2008 © Dan Roam   THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
The 6 ways we see:




                                                               42
2008 © Dan Roam   THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
<6><6>




                                                               43
2008 © Dan Roam   THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
Framework 1: “Portraits” for WHO / WHAT problems




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2008 © Dan Roam   THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
Framework 2: “Charts” for HOW MUCH / HOW MANY
          problems




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2008 © Dan Roam   THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
Framework 3: “Maps” for WHERE problems




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2008 © Dan Roam   THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
Framework 4: “Timelines” for WHEN problems




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2008 © Dan Roam   THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
Framework 5: “Flowcharts” for HOW problems




                                                               48
2008 © Dan Roam   THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
Framework 6: “Multiple-variable Plots” for WHY problems




                                                                    49
2008 © Dan Roam   THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
Step 7


          Done: our
          very own
          visual thinking
          universal
          problem
          solving tool kit!




                                                               50
2008 © Dan Roam   THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
Step 8




          Give it to a
          friend, and help
          them see the
          power of visual
          thinking, too.
                                                               51
2008 © Dan Roam   THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
Speaking of airplanes…




                                                               52
2008 © Dan Roam   THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
53
2008 © Dan Roam   THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
Dan Roam

                                                               djroam@gmail.com
                                                               Office: 415-695-0231
                                                               Mobile: 415-823-5794
                                                               39 Romain St.
                                                               SF, CA 94114

                                                               www.digitalroam.typepad.com
                                                               www.thebackofthenapkin.com



                                                                                             54
2008 © Dan Roam   THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved

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The Back of the Napkin: Solving Design Problems (and Selling Your Solutions) with Pictures

  • 1. The Back of the Napkin Workshop Solving Problems with Pictures Dan Roam MIX08 :: UX03 :: March 5, 2008 :: The Venetian
  • 2. Visual thinking: what problems, what pictures, and who is „we‟? 2 2008 © Dan Roam THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
  • 3. Rather than draw this: Let‟s draw this: 3 2008 © Dan Roam THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
  • 4. Rather than focus on this: Let‟s focus on this: 4 2008 © Dan Roam THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
  • 5. Exercise 1: the Who is „We‟ self-assessment 5 2008 © Dan Roam THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
  • 6. a) I‟m in a brainstorming session in a conference room that has a big whiteboard. I want to: 1. Go to the board, pick up a pen and start drawing circles and boxes. 2. Try to decipher whatever is already written on the board. 3. Go to the board and start writing categorized lists. Add a little clarification to what’s already up there – you know, to make 4. it clearer. 5. Forget the whiteboard – come on here, people, we’ve got work to do! 6. I hate brainstorming sessions. 6 2008 © Dan Roam THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
  • 7. b) Someone hands me a pen and asks me to sketch out a particular idea. I: 1. Ask for more pens, preferably in at least three colors. 2. Just start sketching and see what emerges. Say, “I can’t draw, but…” and then make a horrible stick figure. 3. 4. Start by writing a few words, then putting boxes around them. 5. Put the pen on the table and start talking. Say, “No thanks, I can’t draw”, and leave it at that. 6. 7 2008 © Dan Roam THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
  • 8. c) Someone hands me a complicated spreadsheet and asks me to look it over. I first: 1. Glaze over and hope it will go away. 2. Flip through the pages and see if something – I dunno, whatever – pops up. 3. Read across the top of the columns or down each row in order, to identify the categories. 4. Select a row and column at random and follow them to the data cell, then look for similar (or different) data results in other cells. 5. Look for the largest or smallest values I can find, then trace them back to identify them. 6. Notice that OPEX variance to budget is down for the second quarter in a row. 8 2008 © Dan Roam THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
  • 9. d) On my way home from a conference, I see a cute fellow attendee at the airport cafe, and he or she asks me what I do. I: 1. Grab a napkin and ask the waiter if I can borrow a pen. 2. Pick up three packs of Sweet-n-Low, lay them on the bar, point to one and say, “Okay, this is me over here, and this is the customer over here…” 3. Pull out a page from my PowerPoint deck – a really good page – and start walking through it. 4. Start to recite my original job description: “There are three things that I do…”. 5. “What I do? Well, better buy another round, because we’re going to be talking a while.” 6. Say it’s too complicated to explain well, but ask him/her the same question. 9 2008 © Dan Roam THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
  • 10. f) I‟m an astronaut floating in space. The first thing I do is: 1. Take a deep breath, relax, and take in the whole view. 2. Pull out my camera. Try to spot my house… or at least my continent. 3. 4. Start describing what I see. 5. Close my eyes. 6. Find a way to get back into my spacecraft. 10 2008 © Dan Roam THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
  • 11. Now comes the math, I‟m afraid… 5-14 15-20 21-30 On a napkin, write your pen COLOR, and then… 11 2008 © Dan Roam THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
  • 12. Napkin exercise, step 1 Draw a circle and call it “me”… 12 2008 © Dan Roam THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
  • 13. Step 1b Now draw another circle (more like a cloud) and give it a name, too… 13 2008 © Dan Roam THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
  • 14. So, which problems shall we look at… 14 2008 © Dan Roam THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
  • 15. What‟s the business strategy challenge? 15 2008 © Dan Roam THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
  • 16. Put into words… The challenge:  A new strategic vision  A refined company mission  A new operating philosophy  New retail fundamentals  New store standards  New customer practices  New training materials + 100 new staff every month… 16 2008 © Dan Roam THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
  • 17. How about a napkin map? 17 2008 © Dan Roam THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
  • 18. Product development: Why are we collecting all these numbers? 18 2008 © Dan Roam THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
  • 19. 19 2008 © Dan Roam THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
  • 20. 20 2008 © Dan Roam THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
  • 21. 21 2008 © Dan Roam THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
  • 22. 22 2008 © Dan Roam THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
  • 23. 23 2008 © Dan Roam THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
  • 24. 24 2008 © Dan Roam THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
  • 25. What are the three things the CFO does want to look at? Financial Drivers Date Org Cut Unit 25 2008 © Dan Roam THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
  • 26. So, what might *that* look like… 26 2008 © Dan Roam THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
  • 27. Or, when executed in Expression Blend… 27 2008 © Dan Roam THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
  • 28. Step 3 Draw in the last circle, only make this one more of a hotdog… then add in a+ symbol… 28 2008 © Dan Roam THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
  • 29. Step 3 The universal visual thinking problem solving toolkit… Draw in the first set of 3 blades… 29 2008 © Dan Roam THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
  • 30. 3 parts or ourselves to improve 30 2008 © Dan Roam THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
  • 31. Step 4 Draw in the next set of blades, this time 4 of them… 31 2008 © Dan Roam THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
  • 32. Let‟s think about „process‟ for a moment… 32 2008 © Dan Roam THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
  • 33. The 4 steps of visual thinking: How can I manipulate This is what I saw, and What is out there? What do I see? these patterns? this is what I think it What am I looking at? Have I seen this before? means. Can I fill in the gaps? What are the limits? What patterns emerge? Is this what I Have I seen enough – expected… or not? Which way is up? What stands out? or do I need to go back What seems to be and look at more? When you look at this, do you see the same missing? things? 33 2008 © Dan Roam, all rights reserved
  • 34. Step 5 Now draw in a corkscrew, and give it 5 twists… 34 2008 © Dan Roam THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
  • 35. *whew* Time for a break on the islands… 35 2008 © Dan Roam THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
  • 36. How about ten apples? 36 2008 © Dan Roam THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
  • 37. Meet the SQVID… a.k.a „The 5 focusing questions‟ 37 2008 © Dan Roam THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
  • 38. Two ways to use the SQVID 38 2008 © Dan Roam THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
  • 39. SQV.. examples: Qualitativ Simple Vision e Elaborate Quantitative Execution 39 2008 © Dan Roam THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
  • 40. ..ID examples… Delta (change) Individual Status- Quo Comparis on 40 2008 © Dan Roam THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
  • 41. Step 6 Now draw in the last set of 6 blades… 41 2008 © Dan Roam THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
  • 42. The 6 ways we see: 42 2008 © Dan Roam THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
  • 43. <6><6> 43 2008 © Dan Roam THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
  • 44. Framework 1: “Portraits” for WHO / WHAT problems 44 2008 © Dan Roam THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
  • 45. Framework 2: “Charts” for HOW MUCH / HOW MANY problems 45 2008 © Dan Roam THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
  • 46. Framework 3: “Maps” for WHERE problems 46 2008 © Dan Roam THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
  • 47. Framework 4: “Timelines” for WHEN problems 47 2008 © Dan Roam THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
  • 48. Framework 5: “Flowcharts” for HOW problems 48 2008 © Dan Roam THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
  • 49. Framework 6: “Multiple-variable Plots” for WHY problems 49 2008 © Dan Roam THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
  • 50. Step 7 Done: our very own visual thinking universal problem solving tool kit! 50 2008 © Dan Roam THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
  • 51. Step 8 Give it to a friend, and help them see the power of visual thinking, too. 51 2008 © Dan Roam THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
  • 52. Speaking of airplanes… 52 2008 © Dan Roam THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
  • 53. 53 2008 © Dan Roam THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved
  • 54. Dan Roam djroam@gmail.com Office: 415-695-0231 Mobile: 415-823-5794 39 Romain St. SF, CA 94114 www.digitalroam.typepad.com www.thebackofthenapkin.com 54 2008 © Dan Roam THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN all rights reserved