Thinking process and problem-solving skills

Enhance your problem-solving skills with visual thinking

An image of mind-mapping concept (created via Bing)

Before we jump into how to use visual thinking to improve problem-solving, let's take a closer look at the thinking process.

There are two ways of thinking patterns, namely verbal thinking and visual thinking. And most of us are a mix of both.

What is visual thinking?

People who use visual thinking rely on pictures, diagrams, maps, and other visual aids(such as colorful stickies) to help them understand and remember information. They are often able to see the big picture and make connections between different pieces of information. And to categorize further, there are two types of visual thinkers, object visualizers and spatial visualizers.

Object Visualizer

An object visualizer's mind works by creating a detailed mental image of an object and then manipulating it to solve problems or understand concepts. For example, when presented with a puzzle, their mind will immediately visualize the pieces and how they fit together.

Tony Stark is a good representation of an object visualizer. He can solve complex engineering problems with ease by visualizing how the components of the suit would come together.

Iron man (Created via Lexica.art)

Let's be real, this is a movie character, does this kind of person exist?

Elon Musk, as much as his unique character and recent drama in being Twitter CEO, is no doubt in revolutionizing the space and electrical automobile industry.

Photo of Elon Musk

Spatial Visualizer

The spatial visualizers, on the other hand, can mentally manipulate and navigate through spatial environments. They can mentally map out a physical space and navigate through it, such as finding ways around a new city or navigating a complex building.

Michael Jordan was known for his exceptional spatial awareness and coordination on the basketball court. He was able to mentally map out the movements of his opponents and teammates to make split-second decisions and execute complex moves.

A photo of Michael Jordan played basketball.

Now after exploring the visual thinking process, let's see what is verbal thinking and who represents it.

What is verbal thinking?

Verbal thinkers rely on words and language to understand and remember information. They think linearly, using logical reasoning to analyze problems and reach conclusions.

Barack Obama is an exceptional verbal thinker. He was known for his persuasive speeches and ability to communicate complex ideas clearly and concisely. He's also highly analytical, often using facts and data to back up his decisions.

Photo of Barack Obama

I feel I am 60% verbal, 40% visual(object visualizer), and I don’t have any talent in spatial, due to the fact that I am terrible at 3D video games.😂 How you identify your thinking pattern?

I digress, let’s circle back to the topic, improving problem-solving skills.

Why visual thinking can improve problem-solving?

  • It gives a new perspective to analyze problems and solutions - Visual thinking breaks complex information into parts, showing us patterns and connections for creative problem-solving. For example, when faced with a complex project, a visual thinker might use mind maps, diagrams, or flowcharts to organize ideas and see how they fit together. Same as the designer creating user flows and journey maps to identify areas of improvement.

  • It helps communicate our ideas more effectively - By using visual aids, such as diagrams or charts, we can present complex information in a digestible way. Data visualization has become increasingly popular in recent years, as it allows us to see trends and patterns in data that might not be immediately clear when presented in text form.

Applicable strategies for adopting visual thinking

  1. Learn the basics of visual language - Just like verbal language has its own rules and conventions, visual language has its own as well. Learn the basics of visual language, such as how to use color and symbols.

  2. Start with a clear problem statement - Write down a concise problem statement that captures the essence of the problem you're trying to solve.

  3. Practicing regularly with the right tools - Experiment with different tools, such as mind mapping, sketching, and storyboarding, to find the ones that work best for you, and practice the skill regularly.

  4. Collaborate and get feedback - The best part of visual thinking is to brainstorm ideas with others, this way you can peek into the mind of both parties and spark new synthetic ideas. Also, acknowledge what works and what doesn’t during the process of presenting ideas to each other.

In conclusion, visual thinking are proven technique to enhances problem-solving and communication. No matter what thinking process dominates you, incorporating visual thinking into your problem-solving toolkit can help you to think more creatively and effectively.

And we’ll dive deeper into learning visual language in the future issues. Stay tune! 😉

Useful Tool

To echo this week’s topic, I will recommend a digital white-boarding tool to help you visualize your thinking process by using techniques like flow-chart and mind maps.

FigJam is the one that I used. I am probably biased since I also use Figma at work, so the compatibility is superb! And what attracts me is that they have a robust community, talented folks are constantly create plugins to enrich the experience.

And that’s all for this week!

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