Why pictures?

75percent.cbachy75% of our meaning making comes from visual input (Roam, 2009, p.22).  By visual I mean both physical and cognitive vision like dreams and inner vision:  both the STOP sign you see while driving and the inner vision you have of your car coming to a stop.
David Sibbet’s new book (2013), Visual Leaders speaks to a visual renaissance in business and organizations.  “Leaders, more than ever need to know how to use visual tools, manage visual practitioners and their work, and understand how to help their entire organization be visually literate,” writes  Sibbet (2013, p.xiii). The increased visual quality of our technology and the ease with which we share and manipulate images, pull forward our natural visual instincts.  Digital images, video, digital drawing are becoming as common as notepads and staplers.  Information sharing is increasingly rapid, colorful, and interactive.  Our brains love the variety of visual stimulation and have an insatiable appetite for more!
While the left side of our brains thrives on sequential activities like writing, language, reading, and analysis, the right hemisphere brain3cbachycompliments our thinking with holistic reasoning, pattern identification, non verbal and emotional comprehension (Pink, p.14, 2006).   While the left hemisphere feasts on words and numbers, the right hemisphere adds the texture, flavor, and imagery.   No one way is best.  It takes two to Tango!  Words+Pictures , explains Dan Roam, make an exponential difference in comprehension, recall, reasoning, and problem solving (2009).
Remember those chunky text books in college that had no pictures?  Finding a picture in those text books was like finding a lemonade stand in the middle of the desert: something to savor in the long traverse across black and white type face.  Comprehension and retention increases dramatically when you can map out, draw out, diagram, or simply take notes on what you read or hear.
It’s really okay to use pictures.  They don’t make our meetings or our content trivial or less important.  Pictures don’t “dumb it down.”  Pictures offer more opportunities for brain neurons to fire up and release our capacity for integrated, high level thinking.
References
Pink, D., (2005). A whole new mind: Why right brainers will rule the future. Riverhead Books: New York.
Roam, D., (2009). Unfolding the napkin: The hands on method for solving complex problems with simple pictures. Penguin Group: New York.
Sibbet, D., (2013). Visual Leaders: New tools for visioning, management, & organization change. John Wiliey & Sons, Inc.: New Jersey.

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