Finding solutions with visual thinking

Finding solutions with visual thinking

If you want to find unexpected solutions to complex problems, then you had better consider adding visual thinking to your problem solving repertoire.

Visual thinking, the use and exploration of multi-dimensional images as tools for communication, understanding and creative problem solving, might be considered a democracy for solving problems. It not only allows for communication to take place effectively and concisely, but visual thinking also has been correlated with superior outcomes in experiences, products and systems when applied to problem solving approaches such as design thinking.


How quickly can you convey the concept of an apple?

“We found that people who drew earlier in the process (of problem solving) tended to have better design outcomes,” says Maria Yang, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Systems at MIT.

That is because visual thinking allows people from diverse backgrounds, who normally would not or could not communicate, to share insights and synthesize existing information and come up with extraordinary ideas.

As Nancy Margulies of The Johns Hopkins University writes,

When people who speak different languages come together in a global culture it is natural that we are inventing a new language that can convey complex ideas using images as well as text … [and] more icons and symbols to communicate than ever before.

Tom Wujec, in a TED talk, talks about the many benefits of visual thinking through his example of making toast.

View this TED talk and think about how you might use visual thinking to find system-wide solutions to complex problems at your school, university, or place of work.









Karen Collias

My name is Karen Collias and I founded Knowledge Without Borders™ to infuse creativity and innovation into the most salient educational issues affecting global contemporary society. I attribute my enthusiasm to cross the borders of traditional knowledge domains to the multi-disciplinary nature of my education and professional experience. The first in my family to go to college, I have a Ph.D. from Columbia University. My professional experience focuses on interdisciplinary research, teaching, and strategic thinking at a variety of institutions, including Princeton University, the Smithsonian Institution, and the U.S. Department of State. I currently am crossing borders to write about creativity and innovation in education and philanthropy.



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