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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Visual Thinking

In the introductory article to this series on thinking, we deconstructed popular definitions of thinking and thoughts, and found that it is believed that thinking typically happens with images. These beliefs are proved to some extent by the number of searches related to visual thinking among other sensual modalities people can think with. Visual thinking is an especially popular concept in business environment, with lots of books published, seminars and trainings offered and held, tons of blog articles written on the topic. And it looks like the business environment is somewhat conservative, or shall I say it more rudely - stuck and lagging behind not only from the thought leaders (scientists and book authors), but from the general public as well in how high it values this type of thinking? 

What I mean is that the simple research that we made in the last article indicates that general public is losing interest in visual thinking, and becomes more interested in verbal and spatial ones (if we talk about what can be to at least some extent named as modalities of thinking), not to mention much more popular critical/rational thinking. Book authors already mention spatial thinking four times and critical/rational 20 times more often than visual.

But in the business environment everything is different. You can find almost 900 books related to visual thinking in the category of business books at the Amazon website and under 300 ones having relation to spatial thinking. What is more important, those related to spatial thinking just mention it somewhere, while visual thinking ones often have word “visual” in the titles.  Another strong evidence comes from a professional social network - LinkedIn - you can find dozens of groups devoted to some kinds of visual thinking, with some of them having dozens of thousands of members, and only one group with around 40 members, that mentions spatial (along with visual) thinking. [We even decided to start several groups on spatial thinking on major social networks ourselves to gather people interested in the topic, here are the links: Facebook Group  (most popular so far), LinkedIn Group and Google+ Group ].

Am I right, stating that the business people lag behind? Maybe, on the contrary, they are the visionaries understanding all the benefits of visual thinking, while the rest of the people simply are not that good at this type of cognition and are lagging behind and simply try to find alternatives that work for them?

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Would you agree that for better understanding one needs to be able to construct own definitions, rather than being limited to definitions already formulated by others?  I invite you to walk a thinking path with me, in course of which we will try to construct a valid definition of thinking itself. I suggest we compare results at the end of the path: sharing and discussing contribute to better understanding as well. Let’s begin.


Wikipedia's definitions (here and in other parts of the article the definitions are as of February 2015) of the terms “thought” and “thinking” never fail at making me smile. They also put me into a tranquil meditative state, as if Milton Erickson himself, the father of Conversational Hypnosis, wrote these definitions. Take a look:


“Thought can refer to the ideas or arrangements of ideas that result from thinking, the act of producing thoughts, or the process of producing thoughts. Although thought is a fundamental human activity familiar to everyone, there is no generally accepted agreement as to what thought is or how it is created. Thoughts are the result or product of spontaneous acts of thinking.”


If we get rid of the irrelevant words from the definitions, we will get this: “Thought refers to ideas resulting from spontaneous acts or processes of producing thoughts.” Or, to make it even simpler - “Producing thoughts results in ideas that can be referred to as thoughts”. Basically, the definitions are: “Thoughts result from thinking” and “Thinking is the process of producing thoughts”.


Smile is a result of smiling. Smiling results in such configuration of lips that can be referred to as a smile.

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