DevLearn Keynote: Dan Roam (Back of the Napkin)


Tom O’Reilly yesterday, Dan Roam today. It’s almost worth attending DevLearn just for the keynote speakers (especially after last year: Sir Ken Robinson, Medici Effect)

Notes from Dan Roam:

“I was invited to talk to the U.S. Senate. I have no idea what they do.”

Simply proposition: we can solve our problems with pictures. That’s it. Simple pictures. Stick figures, shapes, arrows, smileys.

What if you’re not a visual person? Don’t worry. This will be basic enough for you, too!

Use basic mapping, visuals to really stimulate our brain to see more, create more. Generating ideas from lists will not stimulate as much as pictures will. Communicating to teams is easier with pictures.

Simple technologies to share information. In distributed learning, visuals help because you can’t always see the people you’re teaching to.

Unwritten rule of visual thinking:
1. Whoever best describes the problem, is the person who is most likely to solve it.

How to draw a napkin picture:
Southwest Airlines, started as an idea to fly between Dallas/Houston/San Antonio, started on a napkin. One triangle between three cities. Very simple, very cool.

Roam is going over political napkin sketches…good stuff. Obama is a visual thinker. No surprise there.

Three kinds of people in whiteboard meetings: black pen, yellow pen (highlighter), red pen (not participating, but is critical) — ALL THREE NEED TO PARTICIPATE FOR BEST RESULTS.

In order to get the red pen person up there, piss them off!

Good point about presentations, PowerPoint, etc. I’m reminded of Guy Kawasaki’s Art of the Start, and the note about PowerPoint rule – font size, number of slides, etc.

Napkin sketch to replace the Elevator pitch. Simple picture to explain it. (Learning Ninjas, Duce Enterprises, etc.)

How to create an eNapkin (great concept) – how do we do this virtually, if we can’t meet in person? Whiteboard tools in WebEx, etc? Use PowerPoint with drawing tools. Some people know about it, some don’t, but few actually use it.

1. Draw a circle and give it a name, to get past the “where to start” issue.
2. Draw a circle in the middle, label it “my problem”
3. Define the who, what, when, where, how and why.

Roam mentions simplicity several times, noting Microsoft Word being to bulky, especially when most people just want to write something. This is why I favor Coda and CSS Edit in lieu of Dreamweaver. It’s why I like Fireworks, not Photoshop.

Nice note about our tendency to look for technology to generate ideas or brainstorm, instead of just grabbing a pen and paper or a whiteboard. This is why I love my Moleskine and Coudal Field Notes. Perfect for quick, visual thinking. Now, if I could just figure out a way to get my paper notes and ideas synced with my technology.

Vision is both a parallel and serial process. Interesting. (this is research-based).

Dan is using Red and Green to draw on the screen. I wonder if these presenters ever think about the color-blind. I notice the use of red and green a LOT in conferences and training sessions.

You have to show the right picture to the right audience….simple to complex, or complex to simple, depending on who you’re talking to and what the goal is (neurosurgeons vs. music students)

Any problem is a big layer cake. There are more flavors inside than anybody expects.

I’m buying the book.

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