The Path

This segment of the visual thinking framework is effectively the brain of the entire thinking system. This is where all the pieces get pieced together; where you begin to make sense of everything, and where you work through your problems in a visual way.

The Path consists of six steps that you must work through while solving your problems visually. Each of these steps has a purpose and reason for being. However, please keep in mind that for simple problems you may not need to work through each of these steps as they are described here. Instead, use your discretion.

The Path has essentially been developed to help you solve complex problems that require a lot of thought and attention to detail. For other, more simpler problems, please we will piece together templates (smaller frameworks) that you can utilize like a jigsaw puzzle to piece the solution to your problem together in a step-by-step fashion. These templates will be revealed on the visual thinking magic blog in the future.

Breaking Down The Path

As mentioned above, The Path is divided up into six distinct steps. These steps include:

  • Describe
  • Investigate
  • Re-Imagine
  • Engineer
  • Execute
  • Master

What follows is a quick description of each of these steps. For more information on each step, please click on the appropriate links.

It’s important to keep in mind that there are visual thinking techniques and elements assigned to each of these steps and sub-steps.

On its own, even without the visual thinking elements, The Path reveals a very thorough and comprehensive problem solving process that you can utilize on a daily basis to help you overcome the challenges you face. However, with these visual thinking techniques and elements in place, The Path becomes an extremely powerful tool that will not only help you solve problems, but will also allow you to generate creative ideas and insights that would normally be very difficult to come by.

Let’s break down each of these steps in a little more detail.

1. Describe


Within the first step along The Path, you are describing a number of key factors that are essential to the problem you are going to be solving. The key areas you will be looking at include:

  • Defining your problem clearly.
  • Imagining your desired reality — the goal you would like to achieve.
  • Illuminating your past reality.
  • Illuminating your current reality.

At this stage, you are essentially searching for the gap between where you are and where you want to be in the future having solved your problem. At the same time you are learning about your past and collecting information from personal experience to help you bridge this gap in the present moment.

For more information about this step of the visual thinking process, please click here.

2. Investigate


Within the second step along The Path, you are required to research/investigate the facts and information you will need and use to help you find a suitable solution to the problem you face. Likewise you will use these facts to help you bridge the gap between your current reality and your desired reality.

At this stage you will need to use specific resources, websites, people, books and other relevant materials in order to find the information you are looking for.

One of the key advantages of this stage, is that it will help you to clarify more clearly and precisely your current reality as it relates to the problem you are dealing within and how it interrelates with everything else that is in some way connected to the problem.

Likewise as you work through your investigation, you will also be required to organize the information you have acquired by sorting it into logical groups with common elements. Once organized, this information will need to be prioritized in order to pinpoint the highest priority sets of data, tasks and activities that you will be focusing on in the coming steps as you work on finding an effective solution to your problem.

The key areas you will be working with at this stage include:

  • Fact-finding mission.
  • Clarification of the facts.
  • Making connections and associations between facts.
  • Sorting and organizing the information, data and facts.

For more information about this step of the visual thinking process, please click here.

3. Re-Imagine


Within the third step along The Path, you are required to use the information you have acquired within the Investigation stage to help you solve the problem you are dealing in order to achieve your desired reality

This step is all about firing off that spark of creativity and letting your visual ideas explode. You are basically taking your highest priority pieces of information or factors you identified within the previous step and looking for new possibilities, insights and ideas.

The key areas you will be working with at this stage include:

  • Generating and brainstorming possible solutions and ideas.
  • Transforming, re-framing and restructuring these ideas in novel ways.
  • Incubating these ideas for further consideration.

For more information about this step of the visual thinking process, please click here.

4. Engineer


Within the forth step along The Path, you are taking the solutions and ideas you have generated in the previous step and developing a plan for the implementation of this solution/s to help you overcome the problem/s you face. To help with this process, imagine yourself as an engineer — who is a skilful contriver or originator of something — undertaking the process of skilfully or artfully arranging for an event or situation to occur backed by a strategic plan of action that will help you bridge the gap between your current reality and your desired reality.

The key areas you will be working with at this stage include:

  • Selecting a criteria for idea implementation.
  • Envisioning possible viable scenarios.
  • Evaluating the benefits and drawbacks of each scenario.
  • Crafting a plan of action to bring your ideas to fruition.

For more information about this step of the visual thinking process, please click here.

5. Execute


Within the fifth step along The Path, you must execute the strategy you engineered within the previous step in order to bridge the gap between your current reality and your desired reality by implementing the solution/s that will help you solve your problem/s.

This is a critical step along The Path, however, it’s a step that we wont be discussing or breaking down in much detail. The process of executing your plan of action is more about mindset and doesn’t have much to do with the process of visual thinking. However, you may find that while executing your plan, that you might at times need to refine your strategy. In such instances it might be worthwhile drawing out a few diagrams to help you clarify your thinking and decision-making process.

For more information about this step of the visual thinking process, please click here.

6. Master


Within the sixth step along The Path, you have completed your visual problem solving journey, and now comes time to reflect and learn from your experience. This is an important step because it allows you the opportunity to learn from mistakes and errors that were made, which therefore better prepares you for future visual thinking challenges.

The key areas you will be working with at this stage include:

  • Reflecting on events and learning experiences.
  • Reflecting on sequences and mistakes.
  • Anticipating future problems and scenarios in advance.

For more information about this step of the visual thinking process, please click here.

Everything you read here is part of ongoing research and experimentation within the visual thinking arena. The goal is to create a comprehensive framework for visual thinking that encapsulates creativity, problem solving and critical thinking skills. Your comments, ideas and suggestions are most welcome.
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