Is a Picture Really Worth 1,000 Words?

Don’t wait until the end of the year to begin pondering your personal and professional goals. Take a moment today to reflect on what you have accomplished over the year, and ponder where you want to go.

To make your plans “official”, you will likely write down your goals. In team meetings (and maybe even in family meetings), charts, tables and lists are made of what you want to accomplish in the year to come. Research has shown that writing down goals is a great way to maximize the possibility of their achievement. However, there is a relatively new idea suggesting that adding a visual element to our goal-setting exercises may bring even stronger results. Images help us understand information. In one recent study from Michigan State University, a team of researchers identified over 200 emergency room patients who had suffered from lacerations. Before being discharged, each of these individuals was handed instructions regarding how to care for their wounds at home. In an interesting twist, half of the patients received text-only instructions. The remaining individuals were provided the same text, along with visual depictions of what was required (i.e., cartoons that showed what was meant by the written descriptions).

The research team followed up with the patients three days later via telephone to see which individuals were more successful in terms of following their home-care plan. The results were fascinating.

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Craig Dowden

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Craig Dowden & Associates is a firm focused on supporting clients in achieving leadership and organizational excellence by leveraging the science of peak performance. He is author of Do Good to Lead Well: The Science and Practice of Positive Leadership.


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