Kevin Duncan, author of The Diagrams Book, has trained thousands of people, and it became apparent to him that many find it hard to express ideas and solve problems purely with words.
Diagrams are superb for organising your own thinking. Here, Kevin shares 3 diagrams to aid problem-solving:
Creating diagrams gives you a better chance of coming across as strategically well organised, or simply being better at explaining your point of view to colleagues and customers.
I use these diagrams all the time in training, and they really help people, so I hope you find them useful too.
- THE ESSENTIALIST DIAGRAM
- Two diagrams in one. In his book Essentialism, Greg McKeown espouses the disciplined pursuit of less. The non-essentialist is all things to all people, pursues everything in an undisciplined way, and lives a life that does not satisfy.
- He or she thinks that almost everything is essential. It’s the mess on the left.
- The essentialist does less but better, creating a life that really matters.
- He or she thinks that almost everything is non-essential, so if it isn’t a clear yes, then it’s a clear no. That’s the clarity on the right.
- When it comes to energy, instead of doing many things half-heartedly, do one or two things properly. In both cases the same amount of energy is exerted.
- It’s the difference between a millimetre of progress in a million directions and significant progress in what matters most.
Exercise: Look at your list of things to do. Go down it using an essentialist frame of mind. Cross out all the non-essential items. See what’s left. Then go back through it again and ask yourself: “What is the one essential thing I need to do today?” Now do that, and that only. Repeat ad infinitum.
- THE BAR CODE DAY
- The bar code provides a visual depiction of a day filled with hundreds of short, bitty tasks. This is not usually through the choice of the person doing the work. It’s because they keep being interrupted.
- When that happens, it takes the average person 12 to 15 minutes to get back to doing what they were doing. So if they are disturbed more than four times an hour, they have lost their whole career.
- Studies now show that multitasking doesn’t work, so if you want to produce proper high quality work, you need to allocate a decent run of time for each task, without interruption.
- Planning your day more like the version on the right means you can complete fulfilling tasks on your own terms.
- This includes suitable breaks, and controlled use of email and other technology so that you can really concentrate on what truly matters.
Exercise: Look at your diary planner for the day, or week. Correlate the time available with the nature of the tasks you want to do. Earmark important jobs that require high quality thinking, estimate the time needed, and block out the necessary run of time. When enacting these, go somewhere where no one can find you, and do not take any technology with you. If needed, allocate shorter chunks of time for rapid administrivia or email.
- THE RESISTANCE
- Much has been written about how easy it is to have ideas. The world is full of them. It’s getting them done that is far more of a challenge.
- Steve Jobs said that “Real artists ship.” In other words, they produce things, and then stand by for the reaction. Response is not always favourable, so shipping takes bravery.
- Not wishing to ship is effectively a fear of criticism, whether that’s a musician still doing their 27th remix of a song, or a painter with a cellar full of work but no exhibition.
- Ideas have to be enacted, otherwise technically they have no tangible existence.
- Overcoming the resistance, as Seth Godin calls it, takes bravery and energy.
- “Could have”, “would have,” and “should have” don’t cut it. They just mean that you didn’t.
Exercise: Take some time to review all the things that you would ideally like to do, whether work or personal. Include all your dreams and half-baked ideas. Now consider how much you really want to do them. If there is something that you really want to do, work out what your resistance to doing it is. Now consider how to remove the blockage. There’s probably nothing stopping you.
The Diagrams Book is available here.
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