A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Many years ago I was part of a team that used a storyboard technique for an Information Technology (IT) proposal.  The proposal managers worked out an outline based on the requirements in the Request For Proposal (RFP) and allocated the parts to writers.

Our rules were simple: to create a graphic (image, table, drawing, etc.) on the left-hand page (the even-numbered pages) and write text on the right-hand side (the odd-numbered pages) of the bound proposal.

The reader of the proposal would see the same response to the each RFP section twice, once in a graphic and once in a text format. Each format reinforced the other and the reader thoroughly understood the intended message in each section.

The lesson learned in this exercise stuck with me. Today I often use simple graphics, along with text, to work with a stakeholder to  refine requirements or process flows. The graphics may be BPMN process flows, UML diagrams, Entity Relationship Diagrams, data flows, or wireframes. The point is simple; people relate to pictures and pictures convey information that text cannot.