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The 6 keys to understand and explain anything

September 25, 2012

You need to wear the six hats, whenever you’re learning anything new Boomed by school teacher in his loud baritone. Do YOU UNDERSTAND? At that time, at that age, it was like what is he talking about? He was referring to the who/what, how much, where, when, how and finally why.

Children know the secret

Every little child always inquisitively asks these questions, and it’s the cause of frustration to parents. However, understanding about any concept is etched in us, once we layer this information in our minds. Children auto-magically do this.

Visualizing the problem

Dan Roam in his classic book “The Back of the Napkin” brought this to the fore again in terms of his The 6×6 Rule. The six ways we see mapped to the only six pictures we need to be able to draw.

6x6 (Image Source: Dan Roam’s blog:

You can use it to: Solve Problems, Present Ideas and even Write Articles

Turns out this applies to any kind of information understanding and explaining or presenting, it’s a common theme which you’ll find in the best of articles, blog posts, presentations etc.

Any information is typically presented by talking or explaining  about the who or what and then followed by the other 5.

Every time I think of how Dan applied the concept of the 5 Ws and the H to visual thinking, I’m just amazed. This framework helps one to understand as well as present most types of information. I’ve yet to come across a problem which I’ve not yet understood better once i’ve visualized each of the aspects of the problem using the 6×6 rule.


Whether you’re learning, presenting or writing an article, using the 6×6 eases the process. Just asking the questions helps a great deal, just using the questions while presenting is great as well. However, the magic truly unfolds when one visualizes with the 6×6. What’s been your experience, do share.

  1. Hi, Sanjay,
    I saw your recent post on Vizthink Austin, which I think is pretty inactive these days. But I thought maybe we should hook up and see what kind of visual trouble we can cause.

    • sanjayshetty permalink

      Hi Kate,

      Sounds good 😊
      Feel free to ping me on Skype, my I’d is Sanjay.shetty or mail me at my,


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