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The Back of the Napkin

Dan Roam's illustration of Capt. Sully's Flight - I think this drawing may have lead to the drawing we saw in today's classI hadn’t heard of Dan Roam's The Back of the Napkin till I was reviewing the Great Ideas Conference schedule and trying to figure out what sessions would be best for the Leadership Academy students to attend. Through some exploring, and more than a few minutes sitting in the Knowledge Center reading The Back of the Napkin, I became intrigued with Dan’s concept. It is quite simple actually. If you want to solve a problem, draw a picture. What amazes me is how his idea works! Today, through Dan’s generosity, he spent over an hour discussing this concept in more detail with the Academy over a multi-media conference call.

After Dan further explained the “advanced napkin” concept through the perfect example of Peets Coffee (get his book to learn more), he went into a new concept he is working on: explaining how to fix our economy, the auto industry, and improve the green movement. It turns out all three “movements” are actually interconnected. Through the course of drawing a picture and logically presenting his findings, the Academy students decided Dan Roam should run for President. It was a simple drawing of three circles. And the extremely hard task of figuring how to bring the US out of this recession suddenly....looked very simple....and easy to understand. All through thinking through a problem and creating a picture.

For those of you saying “I can’t draw,” if you can draw a stick figure and a smiley face, you can craft the pictures Dan is talking about. Even I can draw these pictures.

So today’s lesson is, if you have a problem that you just aren’t sure how to solve 1- read Dan’s book and 2- draw a picture on the back of a napkin (hey, it is how Southwest Airlines got started).