The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures
Dan Roam
Publication Date
December 2009
Portfolio Hardcover
FROM AMAZON.COM: The acclaimed bestseller about visual problem solving-now bigger and better

"There is no more powerful way to prove that we know something well than to draw a simple picture of it. And there is no more powerful way to see hidden solutions than to pick up a pen and draw out the pieces of our problem."

So writes Dan Roam in The Back of the Napkin, the international bestseller that proves that a simple drawing on a humble napkin can be more powerful than the slickest PowerPoint presentation. Drawing on twenty years of experience and the latest discoveries in vision science, Roam teaches readers how to clarify any problem or sell any idea using a simple set of tools.

He reveals that everyone is born with a talent for visual thinking, even those who swear they can't draw. And he shows 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.

Take Herb Kelleher and Rollin King, who figured out how to beat the traditional hub-and-spoke airlines with a bar napkin and a pen. Three dots to represent Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. Three arrows to show direct flights. Problem solved, and the picture made it easy to sell Southwest Airlines to investors and customers.

Now with more color, bigger pictures, and additional content, this new edition does an even better job of helping you literally see the world in a new way. Join the teachers, project managers, doctors, engineers, assembly-line workers, pilots, football coaches, marine drill instructors, financial analysts, students, parents, and lawyers who have discovered the power of solving problems with pictures.

The Back of the Napkin Filed under: idea, visualization, models, modeling.
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Four Comments
Jeff Howard on June 15, 2010 12:55am
Back of the Napkin presents a few core ideas. First, six ways of seeing familiar from journalism: Who/what, How many, where, when, how and why. Second, the "SQVID" framework for five aspects of visualization: simple vs elaborate, quality vs quantity, vision vs execution, individual vs compare and change (delta) vs status quo. And finally, frameworks for showing: essentially translating each of the six ways of seeing into a set of appropriate visual strategies.
Qin Han on June 24, 2010 9:48am
haha, was about to put it in the list, the following book 'unfolding the napkin' is as good :)
Teresa Jular PĂ©rez-Alfaro on April 14, 2014 8:28pm
I liked this book because it is more than a convenient way to lose the fear of expression in visual key (important thing for me, that I have spent many years doing those just textually); the author also argues why it must be done. Thank you!
Marco Buonvino on January 2, 2018 5:29pm
Storytelling + sketching, clearly explained by the author. The framework "Look > See > Imagine > Show" was particularly interesting and easy to apply in my everyday work.
The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures
By Dan Roam
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  1. Introductions
  2. Discovering Ideas
  3. Developing Ideas
  4. Selling Ideas