Business Innovation Group

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Category Archives: Graphical Tools

Visual Language

One the nuances most people miss about Six Sigma is the value of the graphical problem solving tools.  It is commonly accepted now that written text (like you are processing right now) is one of the most inefficient methods of communicating. We are visual creatures.  The old adage, “a picture paints a thousand words” is quite true.  If someone writes this symbol “+” on a whiteboard, we know they are going to talk about adding two things together.  That symbol did not always exist.  There was a time in history when, if you wrote that symbol on something, it would mean nothing.  But instead of having to explain that we are going to have two groups of things and we want to talk about what happens when we put the groups together (see?), we just draw the plus sign, and everybody gets it; in fact they don’t even think about it.

So now, we are adding new symbols to our vocabulary.  If some draws something that looks like the bones of a fish on the whiteboard, we know they mean causes-and-effects, and that we are going to talk about all the various things which affect something of interest.

If someone draws a square box with arrows going in and arrows coming out, and we are talking about some new project, we know we are going to talk about a process, its inputs, and its outputs, and probably about how we will measure those outputs as part of our project.

Being literate in this new more composite language highly accelerates our teamwork.

Learn the language of problem solving.  Remember that for any language, even if you can speak it, if you cannot read it and write it, you are illiterate in that language.