Some human being say we cannot control what us cannot measure. Ns say we cannot settle what us cannot see, or at least visualize somehow.

You are watching: Why is visually representing a problem helpful for a team

Projects room problem-solving exercises. The whole project is one huge problem. We can be building a brand-new product; that's a trouble to solve. Or we might be make the efforts to develop something fine understood but within a an overwhelming amount that time, to a chop budget, and also demanding specification. Or we can be relocating our organization forward v a change initiative. This are acquainted project atmospheres that are puzzles or problems to solve.


Then within this large problem environments, we have actually hundreds that everyday obstacles to answer, too. "How space we walk to manage without the installer today?" or "The pilot group has requested 400 changes, now what execute we do?"

Once us see projects as puzzles with an ext puzzles within them, us realize the prestige of valuable problem-solving.


Rarely execute project managers have actually all the answer or the best answers. Therefore we need to share the problem and also collaborate on developing a solution. This is why being able come visualize difficulties is so important.

Visualizing a trouble helps us know it ourselves and also then gain consensus with rather on it. That also enables us to determine if we are all seeing it in the very same way. Illustration something likewise lays it the end spatially, allowing people to see relations, sequence and connections, or every little thing we desire to depict.

Here is the framework of this write-up as a perform of cartridge points:

IntroductionWhy visualizing is helpfulAn example from a genuine projectWays in i beg your pardon we deserve to visualizeWrap up and recommendations

Here is the same information as an image:


Research right into visual thinking by David Hyerle, creator of thinking Maps methodology, reports the 90% of the information entering the mind is visual.


Also, 40% of all nerve fibers connected to the mind are because that the retina, and also a complete 20% the the entire cerebral cortex is for vision, so let's usage it.

Creating a visual helps united state to tackle a difficulty in steps. Having actually a spatial reference permits us to park some elements until later. We can say: "Yes us still must solve the setting re-entry problem, that's shown over here; however right currently we room tackling the start problem." Separating materials in this method allows us to focus on one aspect at a time.

A Real-Life Example

I when took over a struggling task that was utilizing a complex mix of proprietary hardware, software and merchant products. It blended in-house arisen software and cloud-based services—and was complicated for me come comprehend. I went with all the documentation however struggled to see how the facets worked together. To get up to speed, i knew I had actually to attract it all the end to recognize it.

I met with stakeholders, asked around how their part worked and also drew the out v them. They noted lots that corrections and also additions. I then proved the totality thing to the team, and they uncovered even more omissions, which ns filled in. I felt like they were humoring me, help me gain my small project manager mind around the complex system they had actually spent year developing. However, climate they announced they had actually never watched it all mapped out in a solitary (very large) photo before.

We finished up utilizing the diagram continuously going forward within the team to comment on issues and to onboard new members. I likewise used streamlined versions and zoomed-in parts for explaining aspects of the project to the steering committee.

If friend are absent a huge picture check out of her domain, you most likely need to do one. It is a an excellent way to surface ar misunderstandings and gain alignment ~ above thinking.

Luckily, we carry out not should be artists—or even competent in ~ drawing. Stick figures, boxes and also lines room all us need. Yes, that is pleasing to have actually a well-drawn vision that strategy poster, but for most instances, simple drawings are simply fine. If we require a professional looking image, there are constantly graphic artists we can engage. Below is exactly how I show some of the functions of a PM:


The pictures are no well-formed or accurate, however convey more an interpretation than words would certainly alone.

Books such as Visual Collaboration walk readers through the drawing process. They present how come create straightforward but powerful graphics to help direct meetings, ask an effective questions, and create clean strategies.

Using images sounds favor a luxury, right? "I perform not have actually time for that!" Maybe, yet are her messages gaining through?

Using photos helps human being retain information. Most civilization only mental 10% of what they heard 3 days ago. Include an photo to the message, and this number jumps to 65%.


So, if we room going to the problem of interrupting world from their work, we owe the to anyone to make it worth their time. Far better to invest the extra time and create a visual 보다 disrupt them six times through the same post to achieve similar retention.

In a team setting, we have the right to use pictures when recording opportunities and threats. The sailboat exercise allows people come record and also place threats, opportunities and also issues on picture with difficult notes:


We usage anchors for risks that could impede progress and depict avenues as the wind in the sails come propel us forward. Cheesy? Yes, however providing spatial separation and also getting world up on their feet, contributing and generating picture they are much more likely come remember is precious the cheesiness.

Finally, hand-drawn and group-generated images are an ext personal, more human and an ext uniting. They room ours; we developed them, and we are an ext invested in achieve their purposes than outcomes shown with share Gantt charts or schedules. Involvement increases commitment, and human is much more approachable than automated.


Final RecommendationsHere are some tips for problem-solving with visuals:

Find ways to visualize the all at once project problem; this permits people to view the huge picture.Break down the interim puzzle pieces to display relationships, sequence and solution alternatives. Usage these visuals to encourage collaboration and build assistance for group-generated solutions.Don't be shy about your amateur art. Her chicken-scratch stick civilization demonstrate a vulnerability that increases empathy and encourages rather to have a go. Beginning with a fancy image might inhibit world from contributing together they do not desire to spoil your picture.

While rough-and-ready visuals are an ideal for functioning sessions, there space times as soon as you will desire to invest more time and also effort. Externally facing artefacts such as plans, roadmaps and also product visions will benefit from the finest images you can create.

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I sometimes produce project milestone posters because that stakeholders to recognize their contributions and the obstacles we have actually overcome together. These work well because that thank-you cards and also foam-board plaques. Below are a couple of examples:



I prefer to embed insider jokes and references to few of the issues we faced.

Projects space adventurous journeys us share through our stakeholders. Just as us would use maps and take picture on physics trips, we deserve to do the same for our task endeavors come recognize and also remember the venture. So be brave and also get visual!