How to Become a Visual Thinking Expert

Within the previous post we discussed the four stages of competence that you will pass through as you move through the process of visual thinking. Today I would like to expand on this discussion by outlining the five phases of visual thinking mastery.

I have renamed these phases in order to stay consistent with the analogy of magic that we will continue to work with as we move through the elements of visual thinking.

The five phases that you will naturally pass through as you move through the visual thinking process are:

  • The Rookie (novice)
  • The Apprentice (beginner)
  • The Magician (competent)
  • The Wizard (proficient)
  • The Sage (expert)

Let’s now break down each of these five phases in a little more detail.

Phase 1: The Visual Thinking Rookie: Novice

As a visual thinking Rookie, you don’t have much experience with using visual thinking elements and tools in your life or business. You’re simply aware of what visual thinking is about and have a very basic knowledge (textbook understanding) of some of the concepts, but don’t yet have any real practical experience using and incorporating visual thinking principles into your life.

Having very little knowledge and lacking situational experience, you adhere to a very rigid structure based on rules and outlines that you have been taught. Moreover, you lack discretionary judgement, meaning that you don’t yet have the confidence or flexibility to adapt the visual thinking principles to your own needs and circumstances.

Finally, in order to gain results from the process of visual thinking you need close supervision and instruction, without which you will lose motivation and direction.

Phase 2: The Visual Thinking Apprentice: Beginner

As a visual thinking Apprentice, you start to slowly, but surely, gain practical experience moving through the visual thinking process with close supervision and guidance. Moreover, as you progress through this phase you gain more confidence in yourself and in your ability as a visual thinker, and as a result you take a few more chances by going out on the limb and gaining some valuable practical experience without supervision. However, you still make a lot of mistakes, — failing to consider different perspectives, such as the micro and macro levels of visual thinking.

As a visual thinking Apprentice, you have a working knowledge of key aspects of visual thinking and can complete straightforward tasks without any problems or instruction. Moreover, you have the basic visual thinking experience to maintain a level of flexibility as you work through each visual thinking problem, however you still only see the steps within the process and fail to look beyond these steps and consider other alternatives and possibilities. Thusly, you are only able to achieve partial resolution to the problems you face.

Phase 3: The Visual Thinking Magician: Competent

As a visual thinking Magician, you are now quite competent in terms of your ability to move through the visual thinking process in a conscious, effective and efficient way. Moreover, you’re well on your way towards developing your own unique visual thinking style and personality that helps you to achieve the long-term goals you set. You plan rigorously every step of the process as you move through a visual thinking problem by following a standardized routine that works for you and gets you the results you are after.

As a visual thinking Magician, you have already acquired a good working knowledge of the visual thinking process and framework. As such you can handle a lot of things that are thrown at you, however you do still lack refinement even though you are able to achieve most tasks using your own judgment.

Side note: The Visual Thinking Magic blog is designed to take you through to this third phase of visual thinking mastery. In order to move beyond this phase you must gain a lot of practical experience, work with a visual thinking coach, and/or attend a visual thinking workshop. All these activities will help you gain ever higher levels of proficiency.

Phase 4: The Visual Thinking Wizard: Proficient

As a visual thinking Wizard — like WizWiz — you have now reached the stage in your development as a visual thinker where you begin to see situations and problems from a holistic perspective. You are able to filter out what is relevant and irrelevant from most situations and problems, and have the confidence and flexibility to adapt to changing conditions and circumstances quite easily — deviating from normal patterns and processes that you were originally taught as a Rookie and as an Apprentice visual thinker.

As a visual thinking Wizard, you have a very wide perspective and understanding of a variety of visual thinking techniques and tools you can use in multiple situations. This allows you to identify and clarify patterns within data and within your physical environment very easily, which speeds up the decision-making process. You are able to accomplish this because of the depth of understanding and the practical experience you have acquired as you have moved through the phases of visual thinking. Moreover, you are also at a stage where you are able to successfully coach Rookies and Apprentice visual thinkers through the visual thinking framework.

Phase 5: The Visual Thinking Sage: Expert

As a visual thinking Sage, you no longer rely on structured rules or guidelines for visual thinking. Instead, you rely on your own intuitive knowledge and profound understanding of the visual thinking process to help you reach satisfactory outcomes to the problems you face. You see the world, people, circumstances and all things within your environment from an all-encompassing omniscient visual thinking perspective — piecing things together with incredible precision.

As a visual thinking Sage, you create your own interpretations of reality; you build your own frameworks of thinking, and move between intuitive and analytical approaches with ease. You envision all the possibilities and probabilities of your reality, and apply these to the visual thinking process in order to formulate ingenious solutions to the problems you or others face.

As a visual thinking Sage, your grasp of all aspects of visual thinking is profound and your understanding of problems is simply breathtaking. There isn’t a solution you cannot find, and a problem you cannot solve, or an idea you cannot generate with the use of your visual thinking abilities.

Which visual thinking phase are you likely to attain?

A phase is defined as: a distinct period or stage in a process of change, or forming part of something’s (someone’s) development. In other words, it is a process of transformation and evolution that naturally takes us to ever high levels of understanding, awareness, knowledge and mastery.

Yes, becoming a visual thinking expert can take time. It certainly requires a commitment to excellence and a deep seated desire to cultivate the beliefs and qualities that form the bedrock of visual thinking. The journey certainly won’t be easy, but I hope to make it as much fun for you as possible.

Like you, I’m moving along this journey, learning and adapting as I move through each phase — hoping to one day become a Visual Thinking Sage. 🙂

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.