Friday fun: Einstein quote visualized

Categories // Visual Thinking

I've decided to have a little fun on the blog on Fridays. 

During the week, I generate at least four dozen doodles and sketches related to my work in branding and strategy projects and when facilitating I fill the walls with pictures and words. Since I'm so visual, it's something that I must do to understand concepts, ideas and how thing work. On Fridays, I will post a picture of a visual I did for fun and tell the story behind it. Sort of like VH1 Storytellers with sketches.

This week, I decided to play with a visual for one of my favorite quotes: 


"It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer" - Albert Einstein

Ironically, it takes staying with a visual longer to get the final version which is never really final. When you're a visual practicioner you always see your visuals as versions 1.0, 2.0, 3.0...etc. They are constantly evolving.

I started with the quote, then sketched out this first version. I was trying to figure out how I would translate this idea into a visual. I thought about a 2 x 2 matrix or an x and y axis. I wrote down who, what, how many, assumptions, factors, constants so that I could organize the information in the quote.

Einstein stay with problems draft1

Next, I did a little doodle with Einstein and compared him to "everyone else" using a greater than symbol and a lightbulb for ideas and smarts. As you can tell by the line through the drawing, I did not like it. I did like the x and y axis that captured the idea of time, though.

Einstein stay with problems draft3

Then, I took the x and y axis and tried to figure out the value for my y axis. I jotted down "problem solvers" as a possible y-axis candidate, but that didn't leave me a good value to plot on my chart. I tried "solutions" as the y-axis and then figured out that I could plot all the problem-solvers disappearing as time went on, leaving Mr. Einstein at the end with a solution. And, yes that's an unrelated doodle on the other side of the paper. I do my best to be environmentally friendly.

Einstein stay with problems draft2

The "final" version for this fun exercise is the one below. I made two axes "solutions to problems" and "time" then plotted all of the "problem solvers" over time. See how they decrease in number as time goes on? Then, Mr. Einstein is the sole survior and the creator of the theory of relativity. I also put an assumption down in the lower left corner to show that they are all equal in the smarts department.

Einstein stay with problems

Problem-solving takes time. It's also messy and non-linear. Sometimes we are in such a rush to find the solutions that we don't spend time noodling and doodling. As you can see, neither the solution nor your visuals have to be perfect, but you do have to be willing to investigate possiblities and give them time to evolve. 

What tools do you use for problem solving? I'd love to hear about it in the comments section below.

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