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The power of visual thinking

Researchers estimate that about 60% of people are visual thinkers; they pick up information by seeing it. You can check if someone is a visual thinker by asking the person in question how many windows are in his or her house. A visual thinker will move their eyes to look up – that’s where the windows normally are. About 10% of the population are picture thinkers.

Words do not stick easily for them, pictures do. Picture thinking is also connected with dyslexia, ADHD and creativity. With a growing number of ADHD cases worldwide, we can expect this group to grow in the future.

For applying the KT processes, visualisation is a crucial part of the success. However, often we limit ourselves to words or phrases. Adding pictures helps to clarify situations, especially when talking about problem analysis. Visual support can be achieved by drawings, photographs or visits to the “scene of the crime”. They will enhance the detail level needed for a proper problem analysis.

In KT Problem Analysis, after defining the problem in a Problem Statement, problem solvers specify the problem using questions to collect facts. It is vital that the phrasing of these questions is done correctly. For novices, a visual problem specification helps focus What? Where? When? Extent? on the IS and IS NOT. This is shown in the example below.

Personally, I was struggling when I had to remember the order and direction of the questions. How can users with a visual focus understand and remember the questions better? The answer is a visual problem specification on a simple example, like below.

I would like to encourage visual thinkers to make their own problem specification on an example which represents their surroundings. By making this drawing, you have to translate the content of the questions to your own world and even if the result is not visually appealing, you will remember the intention of the questions better.

At the end of the day I ask participants to draw or doodle instead of using words: What is your takeaway of the day? They often are confused or laughing and need to think about it. And this is exactly what I am looking for: new brain connections which make that the learned information will stick. Again, it is not about being nice, but about memorizing.


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