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My Little Black Sketchbook: My First SQVID November 29, 2009

Posted by mgodoublems in Drawing.
Tags: , , ,

I have been reading The Back of the Napkin – aptly subtitled ‘Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures’.  It discusses visual thought and the utilization of napkin-sketches to get a point across.  At one point, the author talks about SQVID, his method for developing visualization skills.  It involves drawing ten separate drawings of an idea to help you develop the idea.  He includes an exercise in Chapter 6 to develop your first SQVID.  I have included mine below the jump, with explanations. I apologize if the images aren’t the best quality.  They were taken with my 1.3MP iPhone camera.

SQVID is an acronym that stands for:

Simple-Elaborate: A simple drawing vs a drawing that involves a step back.  Can be how zoomed in or how complex, depending.

Qualitative-Quantitative: Drawing for quality and characteristics vs drawing for quantity and statistics.

Vision-Execution: Drawing end product vs drawing how to get to end product.

Individual-Comparison: Drawing one method of doing things vs drawing multiple methods in a comparison.

Change-Status Quo: Drawing what things would be like if they were different vs drawing the current situation.  The D actually stands for Delta, hence the first word being change.  Isn’t that awesome?

My First SQVID Problem: I was discussing with my uncle, Tom Chamberlain, the problem with speed limit enforcement, since he is a volunteer police officer (along with having several other extreme skills and a director-level position at Northrop Grumman).  I decided to make my first SQVID about improving speed limit adherence.


Simple-Elaborate: Basically, for this, I drew a very simple one-on-one method of enforcement – the traffic stop – vs a very broad-reaching multipoint method of enforcement (which I only included one facet of) – the traffic camera system.


Qualitative-Quantitative: For this, I expressed two possible methods of expressing statistics: the first is an accident (with fire etc, since drawing an accident is difficult), to show that accidents are bad at higher speeds; the second is a pie chart (with no backup information) showing that accidents are statistically more likely at higher speeds.


Vision-Execution: For this, I drew the ideal situation – a person obeying the posted speed limit (as tracked by radar), and a chart of three aspects of a plan to achieve this goal.


Individual-Comparison: For this, I showed individually the pros and cons of an enforced 60mph speed limit vs enforcing the current standard 55mph limit, and then a chart showing the relative pros and cons of three different possible enforced speed limits relative to the actual current situation.


Change-Status Quo: For this, I showed two changes that could be made, and what the status quo is.  The two changes could be Compromise or Compliance, and the status quo is Chaos, essentially.

Delta-Status Quo

Though I didn’t come up with some magical cure for the speed issue that my uncle and I were discussing, this exercise did bring new aspects of my thought process into play to interact in ways that they haven’t before.  I look forward to utilizing this method more often in the future.  Also, I’ve never really sat down with a sketchbook before, so this was definitely an interesting first.  One thing I did realize – I need to train myself to draw bigger and write bigger for these situations.  I’ve always been about space efficiency, but that is not always best, as I have noticed with this exercise.  Definitely worthwhile.



1. Concrete Theory Draws on Napkins « Concrete Theory - December 6, 2009

[…] SQVID process, described here, is in the lower […]

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