VizThink 09: The 6x6 Model

by Luke Wroblewski February 23, 2009

Dan Roam’s The 6x6 Model: Six Ways of Seeing = Six Ways of Showing presentation at VizThink 09 described the six different ways to thinking through a problem and corresponding techniques for visualizing it.

  • When talking to people that are not familiar with visual thinking; the “6 ways we see, 6 ways we show” concepts resonates the most.
  • We all know that pictures work. But sometimes pictures don’t work. Why is that?
  • We can’t solve a problem that overwhelms us. We need to break the problem down into bite-sized pieces.
  • There are only so many kinds of problems and they all are composed of the same pieces.
  • There are probably only 6 problems we face.
  • We always start looking at a problem by understanding “where have I seen this before?”
  • 6 dimensions we can apply to a problem/concept: who/what, how much, when, where, why, how.
  • Depending on the problem, need to focus on different dimensions.
  • Pictures in most business presentations are measures of how much? How much does not tell us that much. Need to consider also when, where, what, etc.
  • What pathway: identify what objects are in front of us.
  • How much: system that counts up quantity of objects.
  • Where: in relation to each other & me
  • When: watch change of “where” in the “what” we identify
  • How: more objects changing over time. Build up model of cause & effect by looking at interactions of objects
  • Why: the model of how these interact
  • With 6 ways we see the world, there should be 6 different ways to represent it.
  • Who or what –draw a portrait. Need to identify the object.
  • How much –draw a little chart
  • Where –draw a map
  • When –draw a timeline. A series of steps are better processed as a line than as a circle.
  • How –flow chart.
  • Why –multiple variant plot with several dimensions
  • Is visual thinking in our nature? ¾ of neurons in brain are for processing visual information.