Key insights on Visual Design Thinking 1/5

For anyone who wants to understand the potential of Visual Design Thinking for you and your organization.

Training @ NPO
Training @ NPO

Visual Design Thinking… Pardon?

When people start talking about ‘Visual Design Thinking’ you will most likely get many question marks popping up in your head. In my opinion it is an area yet to explore after the introduction of Design Thinking, Agile working, Scrum Masters, and many other buzzwords that are used in business nowadays. And I would like to help you gain some clarity on this subject. It’s time to pick up your notebook and read along!

What’s my piece of the cake?

For the past few months, I have been working at Flatland Agency as a Visual Thinking intern. Being involved in multiple projects, I have experienced the power of using Visual Design Thinking (VDT) in the creative process. As I was quite new to this topic several months ago, I wanted to share some valuable insights with you by reflecting on my learnings so far.

So what’s in it for you?

This article sheds light on the potential of using VDT on both individual level and within collaborative practices. It proposes 5 key insights on using Visual Design Thinking in your day-to-day practices. Each week, I’ll share one of these insights, so stay tuned!

For the ones who are up for a challenge: Try to visualize the insights you gained from this article 😉 Time to reveal the first insight. Have fun while reading!

1. Visual Design Thinking enables you to control complexity.

I define Visual Design Thinking as the act of creating visualizations as a tool to understand an ill-defined process. Creating a drawing can help you to clarify the complexity of the context you are working in as you are limited and therefore forced to simplify it to its essence.

Training @ NPO
Training @ NPO

It helps you in multiple stages of a creative process. From gaining clarity of the complexity of research insights, to reaching a level of detail during inquiry within a session, which verbal communication can’t reach in this short time frame. By drawing you help your brain to reduce its cognitive load and sensitize your mind. It can be chaotic to approach or explain a complex situation to people from different departments or backgrounds. Getting your ideas out of your head onto your paper, and structure the information by drawing links or using the Gestalt principes, will help you make sense of it.

Visualizing information makes it more tangible and easier to grasp. Not only for yourself, but also for a large audience. A visual that represents the desired future of the company and shows the steps of how to get there helps your audience to gain a shared understanding on the process and how to continue.

Try it yourself: Think of where your organization wants to be in 5 years. Quite complex to figure out that point on the horizon having in mind all the decisions, trends and influences you have to deal with before you have a chance of getting there. Now think of where your organization is standing now. What is the context you are working in? How will you get to that horizon? What obstacles do you identify you need to overcome? Try to pitch it in 1 min. Quite hard I’d say. Now try to visualize it, using this template. You can link it all back to A (the ‘now’), B (the ‘future’) and the arrow representing the process. Pitch it again. See the difference now you’ve simplified the story to three elements and supported it with a visual representation?

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