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Friday, May 24 • 11:00am - 12:30pm
Visual Thinking for the Visually Reticent (Michael Keeling, Rebecca Wirfs-Brock)

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The best software developers make complex ideas understandable. One of the most powerful tools in our silver toolbox for helping us to do this is visual thinking. For software developers, this often means sketching. As kids we had little trouble expressing our ideas visually, but we’ve noticed that lots of adults have trouble putting pen to paper (or marker to whiteboard) to draw a picture of what’s on their mind. At some point along our journeys to earn diplomas and advanced degrees, many of us lost the ability to think visually and to effectively communicate using both visual and textual information effective.. Drawing complex ideas became difficult. This is a major problem for developers since our jobs require us to reason about and share complex ideas. Luckily, visual thinking skills can be improved with practice.

Visual thinking is a prerequisite for democratizing design. This means everyone needs the ability to think visually and persuasively communicate their ideas.. Drawing pictures – the right kinds of pictures – and using those pictures to tell stories and to convince others or to share our visions allows us to make the abstract more concrete, the complex seem simple. Think of it as a form of analytical literacy just as important as writing code or specifying user stories. In any democracy, education is the key to success and literacy is the basis of education. If our goal is to decentralize design authority among a team to enable greater agility, then the whole team needs the ability to think visually so they can effectively communicate spread the design ideas that enable decentralized decision making.

In this session we will learn about the theory behind visual thinking and how it applies to software design. We’ll also gain firsthand experience through practice. All participants will leave the session with a workbook they may use to continue advancing their visual thinking skills.

Learning Outcomes:
  • Use at least two visual thinking frameworks to help decide what to draw under varying circumstances.
  • Describe the benefits of visual thinking in the context of software design.
  • Share some tips and strategies with their teammates for practicing visual thinking and sketching.

avatar for Michael Keeling

Michael Keeling

Staff Software Engineer, LendingHome
Michael Keeling is a software engineer at LendingHome and the author of Design It!: From Programmer to Software Architect. Prior to LendingHome, he worked at IBM on the Watson Discovery Service. Keeling has a Master of Science in Software Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University and a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from the College of William and Mary... Read More →
avatar for Rebecca Wirfs-Brock

Rebecca Wirfs-Brock

Wirfs-Brock Associates
I'm best known as the "design geek" who invented Responsibility-Driven Design and the xDriven meme (think TDD, BDD, DDD..). I'm keen about team effectiveness, communicating complex requirements, software quality, agile QA, pragmatic TDD, and patterns and practices for architecting... Read More →

Friday May 24, 2019 11:00am - 12:30pm EDT
E-4024 (4th Floor)