Problem Solving | Visual Thinking


Problem solvingWhat is problem solving through visual thinking ?

When we were young , we showed our kindergarten teachers our drawings of how we see the world around us . We draw our mummies and daddies , our homes , the sun and the flowers which represent the things around us .  We see the world through our eyes and we show others what we see through our drawings . We already have this skill .. our in-born skills , a natural tendency to draw and show others , but somewhere along the way , as we grow up and acquire new (verbal and communication) skills , we put our drawing skills on the back seat .

Sometimes we imagine the flowers or even the butterflies with different colours . We draw and showed to our friends what we think . They look at what we have drawn and therefore understand our ideas and our imagination .

This is visual thinking !! How can we use it to for problem solving ?

Problem solving | our biological tools

Of all the 5 senses that we have (sense of touch , smell , hear , taste and see) , our eyes are probably the most important of all . It is one of our most valuable biological tools . Sometimes after  a short nap  ,when  we look out the window and  notice the sun setting , with the slightly dark sky , we think that  it is probably about 7 in the evening  .  How did we come to know that its about 7 in the evening ? We can make a rough guesstimate by comparing to the things around us and base on our past experience , since it is about to get dark , it is probably around 7 pm .    We can  guess time  and  we can even guess  how much time have passed by just looking out the window.  What if we lose our eyes ? Without our eyes , there will be  a lot of problems that we cannot solve . Unknowingly , we have been doing problem solving with our biological eyes .

Now , let us look at another example . Try explaining the company’s organization chart to a friend verbally . Then compare it with a visual  organization chart . In this particular situation , perhaps after 3 lines of  verbal information , our mind probably freezes up . Its hard to retain the verbal information . However the visual organization chart do away with all the explanation and probably can retain information a lot better .

In the olden days , we have silent movies . We had Charlie Chaplin then and today we have Mr Bean . Notice that the entire show or movies , there is little or no verbal communication , only actions and their  body language  . And yet we laugh for we understand exactly what they were trying to tell us .   This is the power of pictures , and pictures are extremely powerful tools in problem solving .


problem solvingLuckily , our forefathers who lived in caves then , they drew  pictures of  animals . It helps us recognize that at that time they have horses , buffaloes and so forth . Imagine if they had not drawn those picture but instead use some form of written or verbal communication . We probably would have a harder time understanding the types of animals they had then . But with pictures , its so much easier .


Problem solving | Visual thinking revisited

Visual thinking is about using what we already have in all of us , our eyes and our mind’s eyes .  In fact more 50% of ALL the  neurons in our brains are focused on visual processing . That makes our brain a huge image processor and that’s the number ONE thing our brain does  . Every time when we open our  eyes ,  our brains processed images and pictures . So why don’t we capitalize and make full use of this innate ability that we already have , for problem solving  !!

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