Visual Thinking: Not Just About Pictures

While working through the process of visual thinking, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that visual thinking is predominantly about drawing pictures. While this is true to a certain degree, I would like to however broaden the idea of what a picture is — at least in terms of how it relates to visual thinking.

A picture is any type of graphical or organizational tool you use that helps you to represent your thoughts and ideas in a visual way.

When it comes to visual thinking, I have divided the concept of a picture into six distinct categories:

  1. Sketches
  2. Diagrams
  3. Charts
  4. Metaphors
  5. Tables
  6. Combos

To stay consistent with our visual thinking MAGIC metaphor, these categories are akin to potions that can help you represent your thoughts and ideas from a variety of perspectives.

When it comes to magic, ingredients are mixed together in a specific way that help us develop the potions we need to create a magical spell. Further to this, a combination of potions creates a concoction that can be used to ward off evil dragons and spirits. 😉

In terms of visual thinking, our ingredients are known as components that are used in a specific combination to create techniques (potions) that we use to solve our problems or represent our ideas visually. Individually, each of these techniques can also be defined as an element — an element of the visual thinking technique periodic table.

Just like with magic, while thinking visually you must be careful not to fall into the trap of using too many techniques (potions) at one time to try and represent your thoughts and ideas. Mixing too many potions (techniques) in a concoction can literally spell “disaster” and will tend to over-complicate your visuals.

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