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The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures [Hardcover]

Dan Roam
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

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Book Description

2 Jun 2009
This original book provides a whole new way of looking at business problems and ideas. Dan Roam demonstrates how thinking with pictures can help you discover and develop new ideas, solve problems in unexpected ways, and dramatically improve your ability to share your insights with others. Used properly, a simple drawing on a humble napkin is more powerful than Excel or PowerPoint. It can help us crystallise ideas, think outside of the box, and communicate in a way that other people simply get . Drawing on 20 years of visual problem solving combined with recent discoveries in vision science, Roam shows us how to clarify a problem or sell an idea by visually breaking it down using a simple set of visualisation tools. His strategies take advantage of everyone s innate ability to look, see, imagine and show.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Marshall Cavendish (2 Jun 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0462099474
  • ISBN-13: 978-0462099477
  • Product Dimensions: 17.6 x 18.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 282,545 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


"BusinessWeek"'s best innovation book of the year A "Fast Company" best business book of the year The ("London") "Times" business creativity book of the year "A must read for younger generation managers." -"BusinessWeek" "Roam shows that even the most analytical right-brainers can work better by thinking visually." -"Newsweek" "[Roam] shows you how to create simple drawings...that are simple but effective tools in breaking down complex notions and letting you share an idea across cultures and levels of expertise with aplomb." -"Fast Company" "As painful as it is for any writer to admit, a picture "is" worth a thousand words. That's why I learned so much from this book. With style and wit, Dan Roam has provided a smart, practical primer on the power of visual thinking." -Daniel H. Pink, author of "A Whole New Mind" "Inspiring! It teaches you a new way of thinking in a few hours-what more could you ask from a book?" -Dan Heath, author of "Made to Stick" "This book is a must read for managers and business leaders. Visual thinking frees your mind to solve problems in unique and effective ways." -Temple Grandin, author of "Thinking in Pictures" "If you observe the way people read or listen to things in the early 21st century, you realize that there aren't many of us left with a linear attention span. Visual information is much more interesting than verbal information. So if you want to make a point, do it with images, pictures or graphics...Dan Roam is the first visual consultant for the customer. And the message sticks." -Roger Black, Media design leader, author of "Websites That Work" "Simplicity. This is Dan Roam's message in "The Back of the Napkin." We all dread business meetings with their mountains of documents and the endless bulleted power points. Roam cuts through all that to demonstrate how the use of simple drawings-executed while the audience watches-c --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Dan Roam is the president of Digital Roam Inc., a consultancy firm that helps businesses solve complex problems. His clients include Google, eBay, HBO, and News Corp. He lectures around the world and lives in San Francisco.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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First Sentence
What's the most daunting business problem you can picture? Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The author should have followed his own advice 1 Sep 2008
By John
This would have been a handy volume with some good ideas had it been halved in size. Unfortunately the author has made it hard for the reader by surrounding his points with too much verbiage. I looked forward to reading this book, but found wading through the text, which at times seems aimed at 10 year olds, very off-putting. More examples and fewer words would have resulted in a more useful book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Back to the drawing board 1 Aug 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I use a lot of training techniques as part of my role. this book starts off very simply and in fact I nearly gave up because it all seemed very obvious. I kept going back to it to consolidate and develop my understanding and found it to be a very powerful tool for focussing and developing ideas.
I am going to use it on some of my clients to see if it makes a difference to my own delivery and support. Great book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By Beav
I was given this book by a friend and looking at it didn't think I'd learn much from it as I consider myself quite a visual thinker already (a black pen person as Dan would call me).

However, the simple concepts and frameworks in the book really improved my skills with noticable results straight away.

I'm making all of my team read the book now!

Buy it, read it, use it. (wish I could have drawn this for you!)
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
If you don't have any idea of how pictures can help you see more dimensions of problems and explain your solutions better, this is a good book to get you started. The book's main drawback is that it doesn't discuss how to integrate stories with pictures to make for more compelling communications. You'll have to learn to do that by reading books about storytelling to supplement this one.

I consider myself to be not very good at creating pictures for either solving problems or communicating solutions. I was disappointed that the book wasn't aimed more at helping people like me who understand the principles but have trouble applying those concepts.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Do not get the Kindle version of this 16 Nov 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The image scans are terrible quality and you will not be able to read them properly on any device. I immediately tried to get a refund.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Excellent, simple, clever and most helpful to help others catching and memorize.
To be also recommended to teachers, students.... and so many more.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars As Einstein said: simple... but not too simple 13 Nov 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I was already a fan of visual thinking (a so-called black pen person), but I still wondered what a book on this topic would look like. Some other reviewers complained that it was too simplistic, but what were they expecting from a book called "On the Back of the Napkin?" On the contrary, I found that it boiled down the complex topics of solving business problems into a couple of useful "tools", such as:

a) How to break down a problem into 6 different aspects, which is actually what our brains do anyway: what/who, how much (how many), where, when, how and, last of all, why;
b) How you can draw a different picture for each aspect, namely a portrait, chart, map, timeline, flowchart and multivariable plot;
c) How you can draw a picture in different ways: Simple vs Elaborate, Qualitative vs quantitative, Vision vs execution, Individual vs compare and Deltas vs as-is situation (SQVID)

I still have to apply these tools in practice, and it may not actually be as easy as it seems to change my current drawing habits, but I do think it will lead me to draw a wider variety of pictures than I was drawing before. I also discovered the website [...], which is worth taking a look at.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Its ok but... 6 Aug 2010
I kind of liked this book at the start, but found it hard to finish. I just got the impression that it was jumping on the bandwagon of books that take common sense ideas and try to make whole book out of them.

In other words, the concepts covered are enough for maybe a feature length article in a magazine. A whole book is stretching it.

Still, it makes you think in new ways, and that's always a good thing.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book with fantastic ideas, easy to read and follow
I thought this book was easy to read and follow. The examples are interesting and the ideas and concepts can be used in many areas. Read more
Published 1 month ago by A. Glover
5.0 out of 5 stars The best business book I've read this year
Initially I was disappointed with my purchase - the text is quite small and its a slow starting book. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Gareth Gadd
5.0 out of 5 stars really informative
A great book well worth a read for people who mneed to present complex information in an engaging way !
Published 8 months ago by Gerry J
4.0 out of 5 stars I couldn't wait to try it out
It's a great concept and the book explains everything you need to know about what it is but I felt it lacked a bit on the how to to achieve it. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Mr. P. J. Howe
4.0 out of 5 stars Damned Good Book - A bit more detail than I expected, but very useful...
More than I expected in terms of detail, a bit complicated here and there compared to other similar books. But well worth the money.
Published 15 months ago by MikeC
5.0 out of 5 stars Review of book The Back of the Napkin
This book has been an eye opener for me as I loathe to making sketches. However, the author Dan Roam gently and cleverly takes one through the motions and by the middle of the book... Read more
Published on 24 Dec 2011 by Mani
3.0 out of 5 stars Ok but hardly earth shattering
This book is okay and by no means bad information. But it's far from revolutionary and I found it a bit obvious especially if you've read any similar stuff before. Read more
Published on 14 Jan 2011 by B
1.0 out of 5 stars Money for old rope
A masterful example of a spinning out enough content to fill a napkin to book length. Takes in the standard psycho-tosh (left brain right brain etc... Read more
Published on 1 Dec 2010 by Tim Ruffles
1.0 out of 5 stars Waste of good napkins
A masterful example of a spinning out enough content to fill a napkin to book length. Takes in the standard psycho-tosh (left brain right brain etc... Read more
Published on 25 Nov 2010 by Tim Ruffles
3.0 out of 5 stars Expected better...
"The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures" explores the power an image can yield as a conveyor of ideas or concepts. Read more
Published on 30 Aug 2010 by Jorge Teixeira
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