This is a posting that I'm very excited about. I think it's partially because it is beyond "pure" Project Management but brings empowerment to Project Managers.
I begin with the bottom line, and my premise: as a PM, or as a business person in general, clear, concise communication is a big part of what you need to get the job done. Often, you are solving problems and selling ideas.
If you disagree with that, stop reading, shut off your PC, and go home. If you work at home, go to the gymnasium or a restaurant. But you can definitely stop reading this posting, it will be a total waste of your time.
If, on the other hand, you agree, read on.
Speaking of reading, I've just finished a tremendous book which really is the inspiration of this posting. The book is called "The Back of the Napkin", by Dan Roam. I am going to highly, highly, recommend that you read this book. Highly. Please get a hold of this book and read it. Could I be any clearer? I don't think so.
The subtitle of the book - to my assertion above - is "Solving problems and selling ideas with pictures". It's about visual thinking and it's power in business.
In his book, Mr. Roam makes the point that we can solve any problem with a picture. I will not attempt to explain this with words - I think you can get the best idea of what he's talking about by going to his fabulous website http://thebackofthenapkin.com/ .
When you get there, click on the A, B, C, and D drawings on the napkin in the center of the page (go sequentially, A, then B, then C, then D). For each, you will get a nice animated summary of Dan's major ideas from the book.
On his site you will also find some downloadable tools.
These form the heart of his book and are available for free:
The visual thinking toolkit:
The visual thinking codex:
One of my favorites, the SQVID:
The 6x6 rule:
This is not a soft, touchy-feely type of book. It flows nicely and contains a scientifically-based, but pragmatic set of tools that you can use to help communicate, and if you remember way back to the beginning of this posting, my assertion is that communication is a big part of a PMs job - really anyone's job.
There is nothing motivating me to write this other than the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed "The Back of the Napkin" and want to share it with my PM colleagues because I think it will make them better PMs, better communicators and better problem-solvers.
You can also check out Dan's blog at http://digitalroam.typepad.com/ - where you can see clips of recent interviews he's had with FOX news, MSNBC, and other news agencies.
I've spoken with Dan (via email) and he agrees that the application of his philosophy and techniques to PM is significant. I think we - as PMs - deserve the power of Visual Thinking.
Have a look-see!