Book Review: Draw To Win

Draw To Win:  A Crash Course On How To Lead, Sell, And Innovate With Your Visual Mind, by Dan Roam

[Note:  This book was provided free of charge by Target Marketing in exchange for an honest review.]

Those who have known me and seen my pitiful attempts at drawing, despite a fond appreciation for art [1], would not consider this book to be initially ideal.  But before I got halfway through this short (less than 200 page) book, I was no longer offended by the writer’s seeming desire to defend contemporary culture from its devotion to the image and its comparative denigration of text, which is still the one part of the book I find irritating, and instead was more intrigued by its defense of data visualization and the thoughtful and simple way the author goes about this task with somewhat basic and primitive art to give a vision to that which is often at best imperfectly understood [2].  As someone fond of Tufte’s work on data visualization, I found much to appreciate here in terms of the art of visual explanation.  Even those with modest artistic abilities will likely appreciate what this book has to offer.

This book offers what it sets out to do, and that is guidance and instruction on how people can use simple drawings to lay out a vision and succeed in business, and even in life, by being able to visualize better than others and to gain an advantage as a result of taking advantage of the immense human brainpower devoted to visual processing and analysis.  Not only does this book contain a great deal of pictures, which are within even the drawing abilities of someone like me, but the drawings themselves serve to tie together the overarching themes the author is dealing with, including the fact that the division of tasks within corporations is related to six fundamental types of drawing that answer the six basic questions of reporting, so the Chief Marketing Officer draws a portrait and answers the question of who customers are, while the CEO provides the reasons why a company is doing what it does, by showing the equation that makes sense of what is going on.  Other drawings show how a use of before and after and the 75-25 principle allow customers to own drawings and sell themselves on what is being offered to them.  Those reading this book are likely to be fairly open to the approach the author has about using visual processing to sell one’s vision.

At its heart, this book is a book about sales and marketing, and it makes clear a large part of the reason why there is a great deal of interest in data visualization in the contemporary discourse on technology.  In many ways, though, this book is far more appealing than most pitches that one will receive in this sort of area, because the author is not trying to sell expensive data visualization software, but rather something simple, namely the fact that one can use simple drawings on a napkin or the back of an envelope or a blank sheet of paper to convey deep truths and gain insight on patterns and processes that would otherwise remain invisible.  This is not a book about spending a lot of money to convey graphs and drawings to executives, but rather about capturing a vision by putting it down on paper through modest drawings that tell profound stories that allow us to better communicate with others. And which of us does not wish to communicate better with those around us?

[1] See, for example:

[2] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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