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Wednesday, May 8 • 1:00pm - 1:30pm
Visual Thinking: A Prerequisite for Democratic Design

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The tangibility rule of design thinking tells us that the best way to share abstract ideas is to make them concrete. For software architects, this often means diagramming. 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. Drawing complex ideas became difficult. This is a major problem for software architects since our job requires us to reason about and share complex ideas.

Visual thinking is a prerequisite for democratizing design. This means everyone needs the ability to think visually. Drawing pictures—the right kinds of pictures—and using those pictures to tell stories allow us to make the abstract more concrete, the complex seem simple. Think of it as a form of analytical literacy that is just as important for architects and developers to have as quality attribute scenarios or decision trade-off analysis. 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, then the whole team must have the ability to think visually so they can 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 architecture 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.

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avatar for Michael Keeling

Michael Keeling

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 Owen Keeling

Owen Keeling

Owen Keeling is a first grader at Linden Elementary School in Pittsburgh. His favorite subjects are Chinese, art, and music. Owen is currently learning to program using Scratch and Ruby so he can make his own video games. In his spare time, Owen enjoys reading, building with legos... Read More →

Wednesday May 8, 2019 1:00pm - 1:30pm EDT
Grand Station 5 Sheraton Pittsburgh Hotel at Station Square