How to use visual thinking

How to Use Visual Thinking Techniques in Work and Life


In his book, “A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future,” Daniel Pink describes “visual thinking” as being a determining factor in who will succeed in the 21st century. Visual thinking, often described as “right brain” thinking, uses pictures, graphics or maps to organize information, analyze complex situations, and solve problems. On June 24 and 25, the Professional Development Center (PDC) offers a two-day workshop, entitled “Wise Wanderings™ Career Transitions.” This workshop, led by nationally-recognized career counselor Dr. Katharine Brooks, explores visual thinking as it relates to the work world—finding the perfect career or honing practical skills to succeed in the current job market.

As described in her book, “You Majored in What? Mapping Your Path from Chaos to Career,” Dr. Brooks incorporates visual thinking techniques called “mind mapping” into her Wise Wanderings™ career coaching system. She instructs readers to construct what she calls a “Wandering Map” stating that, “Visual thinking techniques help us look at complex situations and not only make sense of them, but use the information in a variety of ways from goal-setting to life planning.”

Here are three tips from Dr. Brooks on how to incorporate visual thinking in your life:

  • The next time you’re tackling a problem, try mapping it on paper. Write down the central issue in the center of the paper and draw a circle around it. Start jotting down anything related to the problem—circumstances, possible solutions, people involved, and other factors. Now study it. What stands out? What factors can be easily solved or eliminated? Can you start to see a pattern and maybe a solution?
  • SWOT analyzes are another form of visual thinking. When you are analyzing a situation, create four squares—label them “Strengths,” “Weaknesses,” “Opportunities,” and “Threats.” Fill in the boxes with what you know. Let's say you have an upcoming interview. What are your strengths and weaknesses related to the position? How can you articulate your strengths and compensate for your weaknesses? What opportunities does the position or the company offer you? What are the threats? One threat might be all the other people who will apply for the position. How will you convey that you are the best candidate?
  • If you have a writing project, mapping it can be a great way to get started and avoid writer’s block. Start with your topic in the center and then quickly write down the ideas you want to cover or points you need to make. Don’t put them in order, just jot them down. After you have dumped everything onto the paper, start organizing and making sense of it. Craft sentences based on what you've written and begin putting them together.

To further explore visual thinking, receive additional tips, and create a career path patterned to your personal strengths and interests, register today for “Wise Wanderings™ Career Transitions.”

Read the Austin American Statesman column on Katharine Brooks and her Wise Wanderings™ System.

Example of a wandering map by student Samuel Martinez, Asian Studies major (used with permission).


Tags: wise wanderings, visual thinking, tips, professional development center, mind mapping, katharine brooks, how to,