Companies are increasingly using simple pictures to distill complicated concepts into easily shared, easily remembered nuggets. Graphic expression and visual thinking are a central part of human cognition, says Neil Cohn, a researcher in cognitive psychology and linguistics at Tufts University. About a year ago, the leadership at Peet's found itself facing a challenge: how to communicate its new vision, mission, and values to 3,500 employees. Unless workers bought into the "serve, manage, develop, inspire" concept, the plan would flop. The basic Infosys business model is simple. Bring work to the workers, instead of bringing workers to the work. CEO Stephen Pratt found himself using the sketch at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, this year to help explain what the company does and how it works, instantly. As the retail behemoth ramped up the PR around its sustainability initiative, the team needed a way to let the public know how Wal-Mart is paying attention to environmental issues. Visually representing the complex ideas helped clarify the trade-offs.

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