Visual thinking is an extraordinarily powerful way to solve problems, and though it may seem to be something new, the fact is that we already know how to do it.

The guide rope consists of:

  • A four step process: Look, see, imagine and show
  • Three built-in tools: Eyes, mind’s eye and our hand-eye coördination
  • Six ways of seeing and showing: Who, What, When, How, Where, Why

What is the process of visual thinking?

  • Looking= Collecting+ Screening
  • Seeing= Selecting+Clumping
  • Imagining=Seeing what isn’t there
  • Showing=Making it all clear

This is a loopy process and not a linear process, in life.

How to look?
The principles are:

  • Collect everything possible upfront
  • Lay it all out where you can look at it.
  • Establish the underlying information coördinates, which are: Who/what, how much, why, when, where and how
  • Practice visual triage.

How to see?
There are six ways:

  • Seeing objects: The who and the what
  • Seeing quantities: The how many and the how much
  • Seeing position in space: The where
  • Seeing position in time: The when
  • Seeing influence and cause and effect: The how
  • Seeing all of this come together and knowing something about our scene: The why

How to imagine?

The way to imagine is to use the SQVID framework. It uses both sides of your brain.

  • S= Simple versus Elaborate
  • Q= Quantity versus Quality
  • V= Vision versus Execution( Where we are going versus How we are going to get there, step by step)
  • I= Individual attributes versus Comparison
  • D= Delta(or change) versus Status quo                                                                                                                                                      ( the way things are versus the way things could be)

How to show?

The three steps of showing are:

  • Select the right framework.
  • Use the framework to create our picture
  • Present and explain our picture

For each of the six ways of seeing, there is one corresponding way of showing and one framework to use.

The frameworks are:
Portrait: Who/what:( renderings, profiles, plans,

elevations, diagrams).

They show the recognizable qualities that

differentiate subjects.

1. Think simple
2. Iluminate lists
3. Visually describe

Map: Where( Venn diagrams, schematics,

landscapes, think-maps). They show the spatial

relationship of one object to another.

1. Everything has a geography
2. North is a state of mind
3. Look beyond the obvious hierarchy

Time-line: When( life cycles, process maps, Gantt charts, progressions, swim lanes). They show when one activity takes place in relation to another
1. Time is a one-way street.
2. Repeating timelines create life cycles
3. Round versus linear

Multiple-variable plot: Why
1. Multiple-variable plots are not hard to make but need patience, practice, and, above all, a point.
2. Medium thick soup is best: Too few variables and too many variable have to be avoided.
3. Anything can be mapped to anything else, but one should remember the difference between correlation and causation.

  • Three basic visual thinking tools: Our eyes, our mind’s eye and our hand-eye co-ordination
  • Four steps of the visual thinking process: Look, see, imagine, show
  • Five questions that help us open our mind’s eye: simple or elaborate, qualitative or quantitative, vision or execution, individual or comparison, change or status quo?
  • Six ways we see and six ways we show: who/what, how much, where, when, how, who

Visual thinking is about taking advantage of our innate ability to see: both with our eyes and with our mind’s eye, to discover ideas that are otherwise invisible, develop those ideas quickly and intuitively, and then share those ideas with other people in a way that they simply get.

Our Visual Learning Lab empowers young people in schools and youth organizations with the knowledge and skills to experience visual thinking and benefit from the opportunities it offers.