Any problem can be made clearer with a picture, and any picture can be made using the same simple set of tools and rules.
THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN proves that 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. This book will help you literally see the world in a new way.
The book is broken into four (4) sections:
Introductions - Anytime, Anyone, Anywhere: Solving Problems with Pictures
Discovering Ideas - Looking Better, Seeing Sharper, Imagining Further: Tools and Rules for Good Visual Thinking
Developing Ideas - The Visual Thinking MBA: Putting Visual Thinking to Work
Selling Ideas - It's Showtime
This book isn't about drawing or modeling. It is a way of decomposing problems and then communicating them quickly and clearly using a standardized set of visual thinking frameworks.
The end result is "The Visual Thinking Codex: a master list of problem-solving pictures." This codex helps select the appropriate visual illustration for your problem type.
Problem Solving 101 started out as a simple guide to teach Japanese schoolchildren critical thinking skills. But it quickly became an adult bestseller, thanks to the powerful effectiveness of Ken Watanabe's problem solving methods.
The tools in this book come from the author's experience as an elite McKinsey consultant. But you don't need an MBA to use them. You'll learn how to broaden and organize your thinking about a problem so that more possible solutions become clear.
This book is 111 pages and is a quick and easy read (part-time over a weekend).
I enjoyed the book and recommend it to anyone that isn't already very experienced using traditional problem solving and critical thinking methodologies. Unfortunately, being an engineer and consultant with significant experience solving problems and developing and evaluating proposals I did not learn any new techniques in this book.
The various problem solving methodologies that he explains and demonstrates are:
Root cause analysis
Problem solving design plan (a modified version of the scientific method)
2 x 2 grid (I must admit I am impressed how he incorporated this and made it seem so simple)
Pros and Cons: Criteria and Evaluation
My next test of this book is to give it to my 15 year old, who hates to read, and see how much he can learn from it.
Verdict: If you aren't already familiar with the problem solving methodologies that I listed about then you should read this book.