Who doesn’t love to doodle? What was thought of as an activity for kids and teenagers has emerged as a visual aid for learning. Doodling has several cognitive benefits that allow people from every walk of life to grasp new information in a meaningful way.

Doodling is one among many examples of visual thinking that allows you to retain information, boosts creativity and helps think about things differently. Let’s see what it means and why it’s important in our daily lives.

  1. What Is Visual Thinking?

  2. Is Visual Thinking Important?

  3. Putting Visual Thinking Skills To Use

 What Is Visual Thinking?

Visual thinking is exactly how it sounds, a way of thinking visually. Organizing our thoughts improves our ability to think and communicate. Visual thinking refers to the phenomenon of learning new information and organizing thoughts by visually processing them. Also known as picture learning, it helps us to arrange ideas graphically. In its most basic form, the meaning of visual thinking is rooted in the ability to see words as a series of pictures.

Our brains are equipped to generate visual images, whether we’re thinking verbally or imagining a concept. This aspect is also responsible for creativity, which stems from both visual and verbal thinking. Several studies show that people learn best through visualization. Therefore, visual thinking can lead to a more powerful and memorable experience than verbal thinking alone.

Visual thinkers typically share these common characteristics:

  • Organizing ideas graphically

  • Recalling and memorizing information as images

  • Paying attention to number-based or physical attributes

Visual thinkers also rely on several tools, such as pen, paper, index cards, whiteboards and software tools. They externalize their internal process, that is, turn it into a tangible format so that it’s clear, explicit and actionable.

Is Visual Thinking Important?

Whether you’re a student or the boss of your own organization, visual thinking is essential for organizing your ideas and assessing all possibilities. It’s a common misconception that only people in the creative industries need to rely on visual thinking skills. Irrespective of the industry or the role you’re in, visual thinking is a highly valuable quality for a professional. Whether you’re working independently or in a team, this unique approach can help you exchange ideas and engage in meaningful brainstorming sessions. It helps you paint a clearer picture to internal or external stakeholders, therefore, establishing credibility.

Philip Yenawine, the former director of education at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, studied visual thinking extensively. In his book, Visual Thinking Strategies: VTS (2002), Yenawine highlights this alternate approach to learning. What began as an attempt to improve how people studied art became useful methods for organizations. Here’s how visual thinking strategies benefits businesses:

  • Visual thinkers are creative, which means they’ll bring fresh perspectives to the table and find innovative solutions to problems

  • When employees think visually, they brainstorm ideas by laying them out graphically; this further encourages teamwork and collaboration

  • Explaining organizational goals or project objectives is easier when they’re explained graphically (through presentations)

With the advancement of digital innovations, visual thinking is becoming a key component across organizations. Several businesses are placing emphasis on design thinking and system thinking, among others.

Putting Visual Thinking Skills To Use

If you’re a manager or a team leader, visual thinking becomes a survival skill in the workplace. Not only does it help you solve problems efficiently, it also makes your work more exciting and engaging. Here are some useful tools that’ll help you apply visual thinking skills more actively at work:

  1. Mind Maps

Mind maps or spider diagrams are useful in brainstorming sessions, that is, a free flow of ideas, thoughts and opinions. It’s one of the most popular tools that encourage critical thinking. You and your team can even make connections by linking different ideas. You can either use a whiteboard or paper and pen to create mind maps. There are some online platforms that you can rely on as well.

  1. Presentation Slides

One of the most effective ways to present an idea (especially in business meetings with internal or external stakeholders) is by using presentation slides. It helps your audience focus on the information as you take them through multiple slides. To avoid any misinterpretations, it’s best to keep the presentation slides clear and concise.

  1. Flow Charts

Another form of visual thinking, flow charts allow you to be clear about your ideas. It minimizes miscommunication as you can draw your process in detail. This step-by-step approach not only paints a detailed picture but also helps analyze problems with greater efficiency.

Visual thinking can help you organize information, thoughts and ideas better. Additionally, it stimulates creativity and encourages new perspectives. If you want to champion creative ideas, try Harappa’s Unleashing Creativity course. You’ll learn to use the principles of design thinking to solve real-world problems. With frameworks such as Design Thinking, you’ll approach problems from different perspectives and overcome creative barriers. Learn to drive innovation with Harappa today!


Explore topics such as Visual Communication, Process To Visualize Goals, Ways To Think Critically and Improve Logical Thinking from Harappa Diaries to upgrade your knowledge and skills.

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