What I liked about this book is that it opened-up and explored territory that on one hand was ‘obvious’ but, on the other hand, was completely new. The reminder that we ‘see with our brains’ (the retina is part of one’s brain) and as such, we can develop (exercise) our capacity to better notice or observe, was insightful (no pun intended). Amy Herman then sets about this ‘development ‘by using art as her teaching tool and the result is a book that is both engaging and practical. If there is to be one small criticism it is that, towards the end, Herman strays from ‘visual intelligence’ with a detour into aspects of verbal communication. It is not that this is an unrelated field to the main topic nor that it is It unhelpful (it was!), but it is just that somehow this wasn’t what I had signed up for by being drawn in by the book’s title and then in reading the first two-thirds of the book.

About the book:

Visual Intelligence is an expression of Herman’s celebrated course, The Art of Perception. Herman is an art historian who has trained experts from multiple fields including the FBI, the military, medical and Fortune 500 companies in how to observe and communicate better; how to separate opinion from fact and prevent bias from tainting one’s perception.

The book is divided into four parts namely, (1) Assess (2) Analyse (3) Articulate and (4) Adapt, with each section punctuated with lessons and insights from the world of art. Throughout each of the four sections there are fascinating exercises for the reader underpinning the points being made. ‘Knowing how to see’ is a vital skill for everyone – especially those in leadership, and certainly one cannot but emerge from this read better equipped to embrace and practice this essential skill.

Always on the look-out for great questions, I found that Visual Intelligence offers three generically useful and insightful questions that will enhance any engagement or situation. They are, (1) What do I know? (2) What don’t I know (3) What do I need to know? These three questions will, help illuminate any adaptive challenge – an adaptive challenge being defined as, ‘knowing what to do when you don’t know what to do’. In a world where we are facing an increasing amount of adaptive challenges, learning how to better pause, observe and ask the right questions, in order to sharpen and enhance our perspective…well that is pure gold-dust! Visual Intelligence offers a good sprinkling of said dust on the pathway.

My rating: 4/5

(Well worth the read, even if there are parts towards the end that seem familiar)

    The world needs a new leadership response to a global context of change, complexity and uncertainty. Leadership expert (and author of this book review), Keith Coats is passionate about helping audiences around the world to understand what this response looks like and to equip leaders with the tools needed to respond to this changing context.

    Keith’s research and global experience of over 20 years has helped him identify the key-defining factors of a successful leader in the 21st century as the ability to learn, grow and be adaptable. It is his great privilege to help leaders access new frameworks and thinking in order to successfully lead into the future. Chat with us if you’de like to explore how he could help your team prepare for the future.

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