If your idea of a good Friday night involves a glass of wine and a new TED Talk, you’re going to love this. Designer, innovative problem-solver, and Autodesk Fellow Tom Wujec’s Ted Talk is now available on the TED website.
In the talk, Tom shows us how a simple design exercise can reveal surprising insight into how we process information, and how we can harness the power of collective visualization to solve our biggest problems. The exercise? Drawing toast.
You know how to make toast, right? Of course you do. Everyone does. But could you draw it? It’s not as simple as it sounds. What do you start with—the kitchen? The bread? The store? The farm? Tom has asked thousands of people and teams to draw how to make toast, and has collected some remarkable wisdom based on their responses.
The exercise consists of 3 parts: static drawings (on paper), nodal drawings (on cards), and collaborative group drawings on note cards. First, you have your ideas. Then you break them down into more simple, movable parts, called nodes. Then you take everyone’s nodes and work together to make the best sense of them. By putting ideas through this progression, Tom demonstrates the powerful role collective visualization plays in refining concepts, revealing patterns, and eventually merging all of the interpretations into a clear, unified, and engaged vision. In other words, when you work together to create a vision—not just in theory, but on paper—you get answers.
Tom calls this approach a “visual revolution.” He is on a mission to help organizations make their ideas visual, tangible, and consequential, in order to solve their most wicked problems. (Yeah, we think he’s wicked cool too.)
Happy problem solving!