Visual Thinking Books - References and Reviews

At the moment I am completely immersed in reading about visual thinking for my upcoming book on business model innovation. Do you wonder what the connection is? Well, the book I'm working on will be very visual and practical, containing only the very necessary text...

Visual tools are an increasing must in the executive toolbox - particularly when you think of all those terrible ppt-decks and never-read-business-plans full of text and numbers.

Let me briefly share some of the literature I have been looking into the last few days:

  • The Back of the Napkin (Dan Roam). Dan has created a great and practical book on how to use images and sketches in business. The book contains a couple of very interesting concepts and processes that helps you apply visuals to your particular business problems. To get a good preview you can check out the book's website which features some attractive animations to explain key concepts. Verdict: Very useful book!
  • Marks and Meaning, version zero (Dave Gray). Dave, a friend of mine, is founder and chairman of XPLANE, the leading visual thinking company. He is currently working on a book on visual thinking and has put a pre-release version ("version zero") up for sales on the web. I could almost blindly recommend this book, though I have only ordered the book this evening after a chat with Dave on the Web. By buying the pre-release you will have a chance to comment the book and influence the final version - interesting approach. You can follow Dave's thinking on his communication nation blog and a whole bundle of digital presences.
  • PresentationZen (Garr Reynolds). Garr tackles one of the most important and imaginable issues in the boardroom: making powerpoint presentations interesting and attractive. A must for every frequent user of powerpoint. Check out Garr's lecture at Google's headquarters to get a freeby of his work. As real digital citizen Garr's thinking can be followed on his website and blog. Verdict: A good resource for ppt-artists.
  • Beyond Bullet Points (Cliff Atkinson). In his extremely useful book Cliff shows how you can use storyboarding to make sticky powerpoint presentations. As a resident of LA he gets his inspiration from Hollywood's film industry. This book is quite likely to make you change the way you design your ppt-decks. The approach and process outlined is very intuitive and very practical. Verdict: A must if you want to bring some storytelling to your ppt-presentations.
  • The Storyboard Design Course (Giuseppe Cristiano). A really nice book on storyboard design. This is a professional tool for storyboard designers in the film, advertising and computer games industry. It is an introduction to storyboarding going all the way to camera angles etc. Verdict: You'll have to do the translation for applying it in business yourself (e.g. powerpoint). If you are a movie fan it is a must.

I also bought a couple of books on design (e.g. Universal Principles of Design, Lidwell & Holden & Butler) and Innovation (e.g. The New Age of Innovation - Prahalad & Krishnan, The Game Changer - A.G. Lafley & Ram Charan). More on that later. I guess you're not really interesested in the children's books I bought for my 5-year old son ;-)

Anyways, my wallet is about 400.- USD lighter...