Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to make a complex topic seem simple.  If we try to explain it in detailed or technical terms, often the person listening becomes more lost instead of more clear.

Tom Wujec has tackled the task of explaining systems thinking — how complex processes are interrelated — through the use of very simple exercises involving drawing toast.  Yes, it is a creative leap to think about using rudimentary, amateur sketches about a breakfast food to explain complicated systems, but that is exactly what he has done.  See for yourself at: where he has a 9 minute TED talk and many resources for you to tackle your own “wicked problems.”

There are three key elements of Wujec’s methodology that can be applied to other vexing issues you are tackling:  1) his technique involves breaking down a process into individual steps — making it more manageable to think about; 2) he relies on the power of writing something down, or, more specifically drawing, to create clarity; and 3) the visuals are shared — instantaneously pointing out differences and similarities that may otherwise have been illusive or withheld in a conventional format.

Even thinking about drawing toast stimulates my creative brain.  It is something that I take for granted, and it is an instant trigger that others may not share my perception or knowledge.  There have been several situations as the new semester begins where we assume others know things that they do not.  They know ‘bread’ but not how to turn it into ‘toast’.

Take a look at this unconventional method of creating discussion around a system and see if it can’t pop up some new perspectives on your work.

— beth triplett

Also see for his Marshmallow Challenge 

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