In this second leadership post that explores some of the key takeaways from The Art of Leadership conference last month, I’m going to shift the focus away from New York City and Rudy Giuliani’s leadership principles and focus on the power of pictures.
I have to confess that several people have recommended Dan Roam’s The Back of a Napkin to me. In fact, I went so far as to buy the book last year. But it remained unread on my shelf, having taken second place to life. Newly-inspired by Dan’s talk on the power of pictures, it has been promoted to my bedside table in the hope that I’ll soon never have to communicate through text again.
Dan’s presentation was simple yet effective, just like his ‘matchstick’ pictures. He discussed how pictures are a common language and pointed out that every company and leader needs a vision and a vision requires pictures. He reminded us that pictures can serve the following purposes:
- Make complex issues, simple
- Help solve problems
- Clarify, create, convince
- They are compelling and memorable
When you think about it, it doesn’t make sense that we neglect the visual side of our brain so much. Roam encouraged us to tap into this potential more regularly, reminding us that our visual mind never sleeps and that humans are visual processing machines. Yet we’re often not intentional around our use of images. He gave us some tools and tips to takeaway that will help solve problems and/or help share understanding among team members. Here you can see how he adopts this simple approach by getting people to talk through the who/what, how much, where, when, how and why of something, to help map-out a pathway.
I don’t think it’d be realistic to start drafting news releases that only include images or sending client reports showcasing stickmen. But I do think there’s a lot of value in leaders and communications professionals considering using images more frequently, whether it be during brainstorms, strategy planning sessions, or in proposals. Ultimately, we all relate to pictures. And I’d argue that the more we can simplify life, the better.