Thinking in Images


Most people think in words. When asked to imagine a traffic accident they come up with not very detailed descriptions, in comparison with people who are thinking in pictures. It became even worse if the words are becoming more and more abstract. Words as society, market, law, inflation etc. stay for them just words; they are unable to convert the words into images. Picture thinkers don’t have to translate, they think in pictures.


As school systems are mainly auditory-sequential oriented, it is not surprising that mainly visual-spatial thinkers will have problems at school. Usually, they encounter learning difficulties. But not only at school. Most picture thinkers don’t fit well in traditional companies and institutions. They do things in other ways than expected or “normal”, due to “weaknesses” in thinking.


Picture thinkers are also called right-brainers, as some popularisations oversimplify the science about lateralization, by presenting the functional differences between hemispheres as being more absolute than is actually the case.


We have also committed to this theoretical sloppiness with left/right brain generalisations, although, a handy mini theory to generate creative ideas as we have demonstrated in Blocking the Left Brain Functions.

As we wrote in left brain/right brain thinking, the debate regarding about what goes on in our left and right brain hemispheres seems like a never-ending story. You will find support for the idea that creative people use the right hemisphere while people who are good at organising things are using their left hemisphere. But we can also find support for the idea that creative and non-creative thinking are not two different things but are more reinforcing each other.

The idea that the brain has different specialised functions that can be used to improve memory, learning and thinking are also the part of the foundation behind mind mapping.


A Whole New Mind: Why Right-brainers Will Rule the Future, a book by Daniel H. Pink, posits that the future of global business belongs to the right-brainers. He outlines six essential senses:

  • Design – Moving beyond function to engage the sense.
  • Story – Narrative added to products and services – not just argument.
  • Symphony – Adding invention and big picture thinking (not just detail focus).
  • Empathy – Going beyond logic and engaging emotion and intuition.
  • Play – Bringing humour and light-heartedness to business and products.
  • Meaning – the purpose is the journey, give meaning to life from inside yourself.

Daniel Pink is one of an increasing number of writers on the importance of the Conceptual Economy, as a follow-up of the Information and Knowledge Age. Conceptual economy is a term describing the contribution of creativity, innovation, and design skills to economic competitiveness, especially in the global context. Other contributors to our understanding of the conceptual economy include Tom Friedman’s The World is Flat, Tom Kelley’s The Art of Innovation and The Ten Faces of Innovation, explaining the role of assets such as empathy, storytelling, individual experiences and stimulating work environments in fostering creative ideas.

The discussion about the necessity to escape from dominant linear-sequential thinking was earlier argued by Howard Gardner. He developed The Theory of Multiple Intelligences in his 1983 book Frames of Mind:


In one of our next blog posts, we will give hints and tricks together with some useful resources to become “picture smart”. An essential skill to use mind mapping to the fullest of its advantages.

T29 – Day 29

Silhouettes on the sky background

Design your own thinking challenge!

In this exercise, the last of the 29 Day Thinkibility Challenge, we will ask you to reflect upon and use what you have learnt.

You could design your own thinking challenges in two ways:

The first way is to formulate ONE interesting question.

  • What fascinates you?
  • What are you wondering about?
  • What matters to you?

Then proceed with a question that begins with HOW, WHY or WHAT IF?

Here are some suggestions for topics:

  •  reduce time when changing trains
  •  more efficient lifts – see  video below
  •  reduce time loading airplanes –  link to video

Another way to design your own thinking challenge is by observing your thinking or the situations wherein the thinking takes place.

You could also use the thinking of others (as in newspapers etc.), this approach is perhaps easier than reflecting on your own thinking.

Formulate questions like:

  • Why am I thinking what I am thinking right now?
  • What kind of thinking situation is this?
  • What kind of thinking is needed here?
  • What is the dominant thinking here?
  • What is the thinking pattern?
  • What do I tend to avoid in my thinking?
  • Or what boundaries do I put on my thinking?

We suggest to make your thinking as visual as you can, in your mind but preferable by sketching or doodling.

For more reading about this topic, see Questions about Questions, and for examples of dominant thinking patterns, see Thinking Patterns

If you would like to enhance your Thinkibility, make it a habit to convert a beautiful question into a visualization on an index card each day, as Doug Neill shows in his video Daily Creative Habits, see below.

We hope you have enjoyed the Thinkibility Challenge.
Hopefully we will see you next year when we will have
another T29 challenge.

Visualise Rhythm – Thinkibility Nibble

John Varney describes the ‘wheel method’ of tracing rhythm and explores a more intuitive way of visualising rhythms. Traditionally rhythm is indicated on a musical bar line but after this musical journey around the world, you never look at a musical bar line in the same way. I might add, unless you’re a musician. Patterns are difficult to break. . .

Watch and enjoy!

Making Plans More Engaging – Thinkibility Nibble

Many organisations and many people struggle with implementing plans, strategies or intentions. As a Thinkibility nibble we will hypothesize here that it is caused by boring presentations, but also by neglecting the planning process with all stakeholders.


Planning is often an interactive process

We will put forward the idea that, although most planning tools use visuals, they are still boring. Look at these examples of a Gantt-chart


or a PERT-diagram:

pert planning

Or something like this:


But what would happen if you use a map of the to set up base camps at the Mount Everest?

everest base camp

Or reenacting Shackleton’s dramatic journey:


Or to make your own map of dependencies like a Metro map?

metro map

Or Flight Plans:

flight chart

What if you use for maintenance planning the map of the Versailles?


For planning acquisitions and mergers you could use colonization maps:


Another idea is to go in the Third Interactivity Dimension, by building a planning town with paper, wood or Lego:

3D planning

See also the earlier post Life Redefined, about possible designs for a monthly planner by using known board games.

Colorful and creative planning!

How to Draw your Thoughts – Thinkibility Nibble


Can you draw your ideas?

Turning complex ideas, information and thought into visual maps and stories is a challenge. Yet visualization may help you discover new ideas and solutions to a problem. It is also a great approach to explain solutions and to invite people to explore suggestions.

Dave Gray has authored two books on designing change and innovation: Gamestorming,  a practical handbook for innovators, and the The Connected Company, a roadmap for businesses who want to innovate.

A visual approach to thinking relies on what images and objects we see in our environment. These images are organized for data interpretation and various techniques can be used to enhance the skill, for example, open eye visualization and afterimage.  Open eye visualization is  a technique where you look around your surroundings and try to imagine or add things onto the scenery. The technique afterimage means that you can try to carefully observe your environment and then close your eyes and try to imagine the images in your environment.

Below is two links to  videos by David. Warmly recommended.

Photo: “Business” by arztsamui

Visualisation – Thinkibility Nibble


Where do you search for ideas on reflection and ways to enhancing your awareness? How do you visualise the thinking steps to be taken to solve a problem?

Mental as well as physical components make up a successful athletic performance and the last decades various techniques have been developed to mentally prepare athletes.

Imagery is a technique that is used in sport and by musicians to decreasing anxiety and enhancing self-confidence, self-efficacy, and concentration. It is also a great way to review past experience. Imagery is an experience that mimics real experiences by using a combination of different sensory modalities. Brazilian footballer Ronaldinho uses imagery for game preparation and strategy purposes:

“When I train, one of the things I concentrate on is creating a mental picture of how best deliver the ball to a teammate, preferably leaving him alone in front of the rival goalkeeper. So what I do, always before a game, always, every night and every day, is try and think up things, imagine plays, which no one else will have thought of, and to do so always bearing in mind the particular strength of each team-mate to whom I am passing the ball. When I construct those plays in my mind I take into account whether one team-mate likes to receive the ball at his feet, or ahead of him; if he is good with his head, and how he prefers to head the ball; if he is stronger on his right or his left foot. That is my job. That is what I do. I imagine the game”.

Visualization technique is a sort of clarified daydream where a player or coach uses previous experiences to enhance the sense of reality.

Below is a video where the PETTLEP model of imagery is demonstrated on the golf course. This model is based upon the idea that shared areas in the brain are activated during both physical and imagined movements.

  • Physical – image the relevant physical characteristics. For example, a musician would imagine herself with a flute in the hand.
  • Environment –image in the environment where the performance takes place
  • Task – image details relevant to the task, these demands should be appropriate to the player’s level.
  • Timing –image in real time, but slow motion imagery can be used for difficult passages.
  • Learning – the imagery should be adapted and reviewed to match changes in the task and the level of expertise.
  • Emotion – use the same images that would be felt during the performance. But avoid using negative emotions such as being scared of a certain passage. Instead, it is important to image that the passage is played with confidence.
  • Perspective – the perspective can be through your own eyes and third person, watching yourself play the flute.

Photo “Violinist Jumping” by koratmember

Press Patterns

patternsIt is generally believed that the media are rather objective yet lightly coloured by their economic or religious values.  Media differ on a same topic in the words used in the headings, the wording, or the framing. However, there are indications that media are not so different at all. This phenomena is called MSM – Main Stream Media. Mainstream media (MSM) are those media disseminated via the largest distribution channels, which therefore represent what the majority of media consumers are likely to encounter. The term also denotes those media generally reflective of the prevailing currents of thought, influence, or activity. Therefore, operating in a logic bubble or thinking pattern.

Standard thinking, no challenge of current beliefs

Many media are largely state-owned or sponsored and therefore they are able to directly or indirectly control jobs and financing. By doing so, media is able to exert soft power to filter, frame or discredit displeasing news. Other media are private owned and they are often worse. Profits have to be made of more than 20%, yet the subscriptions go down by competition of free on-line news and as a consequence incomes by ads drop down. Consequently, there will  automatically be no time and money to carry out  investigative journalism or watchdog journalism. Nowadays most media are copying from news agencies without adding any value or suggestions.

A deadly embrace with those in power

Moreover, often there is a silent coalition between politicians and media reporters. In exchange of providing news, a scoop or granting an interview, a journalist will write “friendly” (non-critical) about the politician. Journalists are in competition with each other for access to news sources, reputation, firsts and jobs.

At the same time politicians are dependent on journalists to get heard by their voters. They are in competition for media attention, mainly with their party colleagues.

Journalists and politicians hold each other in a deadly embrace in a mechanism earlier described in our blog post How Thinking Patters Are Created. In some countries politicians have more power over the press. In other countries the press or press conglomerates control the politicians.


The same mechanism is working in a tacit coalition between a royal family or a presidents coterie and the media and politicians, especially when corruption or sexual misbehavior is involved. We must assume that all mainstream media are covered by intelligence services who are able to mute or downplay any compromising news. Usually one or more editors are already approached for cooperation with the secret services from the beginning of their career and from that time kept dormant until required for what is euphemistically put, “important interests” of the state.

The embrace of the media with politician doesn’t only produce a standard thinking pattern amongst them, but exports that via the media to the general public. The concept is called politico-media complex.

Algorithms determines what information a user would see

Newspaper websites are starting to make stories more prominent to you if your friends have liked them on Facebook. More and more we are bound by filter bubble. The term was coined by internet activist Eli Pariser in his book by the same name; according to Pariser, users get less exposure to conflicting viewpoints and are isolated intellectually in their own informational bubble. Pariser related an example in which one user searched Google for “BP” and got investment news about British Petroleum while another searcher got information about the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and that the two search results pages were “strikingly different.

How to escape Press Patterns

Non-mainstream Media refers to any other media outlet that doesn’t fall under the 90 plus percent owned by the global media conglomerates. Unlike corporate media, the non-mainstream is driven by a desire for the truth – not profits.

For headlines you don’t see on TV, see for example here or here.

Recently we came across nsnbc international which claims that there exists a global demand for a high quality, international newspaper, which is truly independent from political parties and organizations, corporate funding and state sponsorship.

Another is the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity founded in 2009 that aims to address falling standards in the media as well as a steep falloff in reporting on state government. It provides professional training; research, editorial, multimedia and technical support; and assistance with marketing and promoting the work of a nationwide network of nonprofit reporters.

The mission of the Center of Public Integrity is to enhance democracy by revealing abuses of power, corruption and betrayal of trust by powerful public and private institutions, using the tools of investigative journalism.

These American examples deserve imitation, especially in Western Europe where the general public is believing that the media are independent, which is not.

Non-mainstream Media

Non-mainstream media are also referred to as Alternative Media: newspapers, radio, television, magazines, movies, websites, blogs and twitters which provide alternative information to the MSM in a given context, whether the mainstream media are commercial, publicly supported, or government owned. There are also alternative news agencies.