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Tom Wujec: Got a wicked problem? First, tell me how you make toast

4040 ratings | 357440 views
Making toast doesn’t sound very complicated — until someone asks you to draw the process, step by step. Tom Wujec loves asking people and teams to draw how they make toast, because the process reveals unexpected truths about how we can solve our biggest, most complicated problems at work. Learn how to run this exercise yourself, and hear Wujec’s surprising insights from watching thousands of people draw toast. TEDTalks is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world's leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (or less). Look for talks on Technology, Entertainment and Design -- plus science, business, global issues, the arts and much more. Find closed captions and translated subtitles in many languages at http://www.ted.com/translate Follow TED news on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/tednews Like TED on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TED Subscribe to our channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/TEDtalksDirector
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Text Comments (137)
Peter Rant (15 days ago)
When the caveman came back after searching for game, he took a stick and made a map on the ground, then they made some verbal discussion. The most basic communication is pictures, then connections to different pictures. It’s hard to see the big picture using just verbiage, we lose the overall concept, and get hung up on minutiae or even emotions and personality. A picture is worth a thousand words but two pictures and you get a narrative toward a goal or finished product. I aways knew this was true, but as a dyslexic, it was always the picture first, then the connection, (the process). Even if I didn’t draw it, I made the picture in my brain, as visualization, then proceeded. Thank you, Tom Wujec, I get it, completely.
Moniqart Academy (1 month ago)
Visualisation is enhanced by drawing which is Art , creativity , I am an Art therapist , and Artist . Art helps in problem solving skills
Colin Smith (3 months ago)
love the merciless laughing from the audience
TwistedSouL (4 months ago)
This has nothing to do with problem solving- let alone solving a 'wicked' problem. This is process mapping- it only works if you know each step in the solution... 🙄
Tis Toni (5 months ago)
2:55 many Africans make toast with fire
AR Sidharth (5 months ago)
mum make me a toast
Wade Wilson (5 months ago)
I'm american and i make toast on a square griddle pan with a little butter. It's way better than out of a toaster.
Ruth Noel (6 months ago)
nice vid
asmcriminaL (9 months ago)
What a dumb talk(like most). So I am supposed o draw toast to solve problems? Got it.
William Peterson (9 months ago)
I had been in printing for 20 years (or more) and the exercise of putting jelly down before you put down the peanut butter really teaches a bunch. There is actually a reason for putting one thing before another!
Tyson Incarnate (1 year ago)
if i wud hv been told to draw a toast.. i wud hv made leo lifting a glass of champagne😂🤣😂
Szanto Peter (1 year ago)
I love that toast examples. I also agree that conversations are very important aspects of that process. Thank you for inspiration! I think I'm gonna make a visualization too.
Chris Thomas (1 year ago)
I love that guy in the audience that laughs at every drawing!
Kearon Maher (1 year ago)
Your mum
Nichole Barber (1 year ago)
This is a great illustration and technique for planning out business and other projects. I am going to use this video when I train my clients.
BluePhoenix476513 (2 years ago)
what would Aristotle think about this approach?
Veronique Sikora (2 years ago)
thank you for sharing this sense-making process. It is great.
Dan (2 years ago)
I like how Wujec incorporated design into wicked problems because it is a different approach then the ordinary style. This exercise keeps people physically and mentally active. He demonstrates an excellent example by taking a simple design and helping us understand the process better. It was interesting when Wujec distinguished the differences between how Americans and Europeans make toast. It showed the difference between the two, but in the end having the same result. If i had to point out a negative aspect of the video it would be towards the end of the video when he states that "conversations that are the important aspects, not just the models themselves" but earlier on in the video he explains that "if they do it in complete silence they do it much better and much more quickly..." These two contradict themselves. I believe having conversations is a key component because you get everyone's point of view and you can build off of other's ideas.
YTrichardfairley4 (2 years ago)
cybernetcs
Ich Nichtdu (3 years ago)
Solve problems through colaborative visualization...interesting.
Hottie Mattie (3 years ago)
What rwally catches my attention is this laugh from one of the audience. Sounds like a man who's really just giving it all in his laugh. You hear him most during the first minutes of this TED Talk. Quite interesting to know how he can laugh that way. ;D
Apple Zheng Yang (3 years ago)
sounds like mind map. we have thousands of mind maps.
Wutzthedeal (3 years ago)
"Talking gets in the way."  "Conversations are the important aspect."  Back to the drawing board for you.
Utrilus (3 years ago)
Games are made the same way, right? and movies and other entertainment
ninJAVONTE (3 years ago)
Blah blah bladeblah bippity bloo, How do make toast good damn it?!
liam (3 years ago)
I came her to learn how to make good toast without burning it, not listen to this man's jibber jabber about his experience in vietnam! Misleading thumbnail!
Steve George (3 years ago)
How do get such a template on powerpoint?
Rahul Shakya (3 years ago)
I have tried this method by building collaborative chart in Microsoft Visio .. and it really works .. best part is that is really simplifies big problems .. 
Mitch McLooney (3 years ago)
Most businesses can't afford a team of graduate school dropouts to waste time doing this kind of thing nowadays.
Vladimir Stepanchuk (3 years ago)
I think it's interesting that group models that work silently, work out much better.
Tracy(: (3 years ago)
COOL!!!! :)
Stabacs McBass (3 years ago)
There are people making toast in a pan?
MonkeyKong (3 years ago)
I buy bread and then employ a toaster
DatarSenal (3 years ago)
Play I am Toast
Struckgold (3 years ago)
I'm hungry for toast. I'm going to make some toast right now. 
okrajoe (3 years ago)
Suddenly I am hungry for toast.
roidroid (3 years ago)
3:00 "less than 5 nodes and the drawing seems trivial". So they're accurate flowcharts then.  Newsflash: Making toast is trivial.
Evan Carmichael (3 years ago)
Well done +Tom Wujec - awesome presentation. #Believe  
Ritesh Man Tamrakar (3 years ago)
I loved his style of presentation. Specially starting with humor and well synced visual content with talk.
Romy Jugroo (3 years ago)
Brainstorming session with less words and more diagrams,those who wish may have a quick nap unnoticed.Nice drawings.
Cure4Living (3 years ago)
Making toast isn't a wicked problem. A wicked problem is defined by unclear objectives or requirements and the possibility of unforeseen consequences. The problem area is weakly defined and can possibly never be fully known. This is a good example of the design process but lacks any acknowledgement of the characteristics that separate a conventional problem from a wicked problem. That's not even bringing in design by committee which is being proposed here.
Narciso Chavez (2 months ago)
what if everything is a wicked problem or everything is not a wicked problem
John Almanzor (3 years ago)
Take a sluce
eilrahc21 (3 years ago)
Design Thinking 101
joe breskin (3 years ago)
I  have been a whiteboard person for much of my life, ever since I graduated from chalk on blackboards. My design process - for hardware projects or website interfaces or policy documents or legal challenges - requires detailed and complete and precise visualization - and I still find this to go fastest using the whiteboard + post-it notes approach. I had really hoped that integrating Project with Visio was going to make my life better, and my work easier, but it didn't. The whiteboard still rules. I keep a stack of them cut to 3' X 4' leaned against the wall. The most compelling example I have ever seen of another person revealing his whiteboard-based process is on the extras disc DVD of a movie called "Taking Woodstock" by Ang Lee. The walls of their production tent are paved with a series of 4 X 8 marlite sheets (same stuff I use) that are each butted end-to-end to form a belt around the room. Most panels have been gridded into a huge 4' X 32' (?) spreadsheet. The cells are about 2"X 2" and accept post-it notes, The first sheet has the row headings and in these headings are the main project assets (actors, objects, etc.) the column headings are individual camera shots. What the camera sees in that shot is listed in that column  Post-it notes can denote details, nuances, etc.  In the "extra" movie, you get to watch the Director and his assistants realize how inserting an actress and an object into the opening long shot and reappear in front of the camera in several of the early scenes - far earlier than the script had called for - create a deep and important thread of meaning that the viewer is not even aware of as it is being developed.   After the whiteboard comes the light table and pencil on paper. Everything is developed on 8.5 X 11 first at small scale and then at plan scale using overlapping pages that tile together to create a larger drawing. I use the eraser constantly and work both sides of the paper to move components around as their 'optimal' relationships emerge. Back in the 80's I started developing multidimensional CAD software to try to simplify and speed this process, but I am fully convinced that it just gets in the way, for me. And FWIW, I work in silence. Talking and listening to talking or listening to music distract and that DEFINITELY gets in the way of my visualization. HT/t +Richard Harlos whose post on G+ this AM turned me on to this video, on the TED site
joe breskin (3 years ago)
OK +Luke Flegg  here is a GREAT example of using post-it technology to develop/refine an idea: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FnRWQqXnhRI
joe breskin (3 years ago)
+Luke Flegg Well, here is a picture of me whiteboarding about 20 years ago, w/o using post-it notes http://www.breskin.com/breskinworks.htm
Luke Flegg (3 years ago)
+joe breskin Link please.
John Calis (3 years ago)
Agreed. I use post-it notes in conjunction with whiteboard descriptions to refine the notes, but not until I am satisfied with the flow and content. But I miss the smell of chalk sometimes.
mhtinla (3 years ago)
This is still linear. We live in a non-linear world.
Utrilus (3 years ago)
+mhtinla When you think about it, the second version is already a nonlinear version cause the drawings are separate and can be connected whatever way we choose Or would the nonlinear version be a picture of a kitchen that shows the toast in a toaster where the cutting board has bread on it and some butter ready to be used with a knife and a person waiting for the toast to pop up. A drawing with a implied story
WTFhappenedWITHyou (3 years ago)
That one guy in the audience was having a great time :D
tambourini (3 years ago)
Man, I read the title wrong...I thought this was about how one makes A toast reveals their problem solving ability/disability!   I wish to make a toast:  "A toast to thank you, Sir, for your talk.  May the process you spoke on be of great aid to many!  Blessings to you!" 
William M (3 years ago)
I wonder if I apply this, would it help me out for my Linear Algebra exams. All proofs, nothing but proofs.
Vlad Macovei (3 years ago)
It does not result from the talk if he took into account the size of the work space when calculating the average number of nodes. I think the size of the work space influences the number of notes somewhat. More than five nodes look crowded on a A4 sheet but simplistic on a white board. Overall the talk is interesting, and someone definitely worked a lot on the slides. :)
Steve Gould (3 years ago)
Would be good in 3D because it would give the links more flexibility and nodes could be aligned with better grouping - virtual app waiting to happen!
Steve Gould (3 years ago)
Yes you're right +Parish Kopite 
+Steve Gould how about model coming to your surrounding.. like the microsoft's hololens.... those days arent that far now i guess
Ben Liebrand (3 years ago)
That is pretty cool!
Steve Gould (3 years ago)
I take your point +Heavyboxes , but imagine you are inside the model, zooming around in virtual reality. This is why they use VR for modelling proteins etc, because the view in 3D affords a much clearer perspective.
Heavyboxes DIY Master (3 years ago)
Normally, I would agree that 3D is better.  However, the point of 2D and nodes and links is to take a complex process and simplify it and make it practical to visualize and analyze.  A 3D model requires additional review to see which perspectives and angles would be best for viewing and whether rotating the model would be an option.  This moves the diagram toward complexity and away from practicality.  
John Osborne (3 years ago)
Wrong: Collaboration creates the worst models.
TheGerogero (3 years ago)
Good talk.
Tomáš Maleček (3 years ago)
And what about making sandwiches? http://xkcd.com/149/
salahhe Sali (3 years ago)
God, I hate it when I watch a ted and it turns out to be some guy who sells something.
Cure4Living (3 years ago)
That's 90% of ted, either self promotion (I'm so awesome look at what I did) or the promotion of personal discovery (I created product X or discovered Y). 
Heavyboxes DIY Master (3 years ago)
+Joey G All group speakers are selling something.  Sometimes it is to sell themselves, their ideas, or their work.  Some give profound talks and at the end they have a product to sell.  Some sell for money and others just want to get reimbursed for expenses and sell for free.  This is a short clip so I don't know if there is a product at the end.  Regardless, TED talks took something that is usually an hour long, and snipped out part of the talk, which allows anyone to view it and avoid any of the negative stuff (the actually selling part).  But the original talk itself, was designed to sell something, in exchange for money.  Those who have the eyes to see it, can see it without actually seeing it.  
Joey G (3 years ago)
Really? Did you even checkout the website? What is he selling? All I see is free stuff under CC license, with no ADs. So what is he selling?
Willem van de Beek (3 years ago)
I never made toast in a frying pan... o_O Neither do I know any European that does... O_o
Marion Drazil (3 years ago)
Have you ever heard of French Toast, it's made in a frying pan, do try it, it's great
Alex Eržen (3 years ago)
First thing I thought was democracy ... But business works as well.
scarletovergods (3 years ago)
Lol, I just imagined what would the comment section look like if a woman gave this talk:  "Conquer the world by drawing! Another simple and silly idea to solve all our problems.." "so much pseudo-intellectual gibberish and so little content" "that's like the oldest idea ever. how do these ppl even get invited to these things?!" "Ok, you promoted your groundbreaking drawing site, you can go home now" EDIT: I hope I'm not being misunderstood here. What I meant is that women tend to be judged more harshly by YT community when they give a TED talk that's not ''straight to the point" (.. or maybe just a TED talk). But hey, I could be wrong. The claim is still to be proven.
David Dawson (5 months ago)
Agreed but it's just sad. A woman is assumed to be incompetent until she can prove otherwise. A man gets the benefit of the doubt.
rawstarmusic (3 years ago)
It could be true but at least he gets bad comments too. Maybe a female wouldn't agree to do such a massive stupid talk?
Mister F (3 years ago)
+scarletovergods This is a scary comment as it's probably true. Would be an interesting social experiment to post duplicates of the same videos done with each gender and gauge the reactions.
Anton Åberg (3 years ago)
you are delusional
Joey G (3 years ago)
This is meta science and its not everyone's cup of tea. Thinking of a problem is one thing, and thinking about how we think about a problem is a totally different area. If you do not get this, you are not meant to get it at all. It's like one of those cliches' - "Shrinks are parasites...", most agree, others find it rhetorical.
Urudrim (3 years ago)
is this how you youngsters describe flowcharts these days?
Joseph Nogueras (23 days ago)
perhaps, but we call it UML, or Unified Modeling Language or just shapy doodles :/
Sipaktli 13 (5 months ago)
I wish this was facebook to give you a "haha reaction", so here's your haha: xD
Roo (6 months ago)
It's called Affinity Diagramming. It incorporates the elements of a Flow-chart, but it's more than a flow chart. The major difference is it is a collaborative tool, to problem-solve across departments instead of operating in silos. Biases and blind-spots are minimised, and closeness or distance of relationship elements are identified, as well as the strengths of those relationships.
Nathan Henrique (9 months ago)
"I am from a generation that is capable of thinking on their own" OMG u mad bro? are you butthurt? please tell me where it hurs
Roshkin (3 years ago)
Did he follow any rigorous testing protocol? Or did he intuit this?
MrID36 (3 years ago)
I think the most efficient explanation was 1:26 Bread + Fire = Toast.
Ahmet Sinan DAGLIOGLU (2 years ago)
I agree with you, but this simplicity may cause missing some important points. For example, Time is not provided to toast.
Kevin Schmevin (3 years ago)
I thought the same thing!
MrID36 (3 years ago)
The pedant in me upon hearing 0:42 "Without using any words" couldn't help but notice the word 0:58 "Jam" written.
kallistiX1 (3 years ago)
_Degrees of Freedom_ Karl Schroeder
John Karavitis (3 years ago)
Now THIS is a great TedTalk. John V. Karavitis
Succulent Lord (3 years ago)
The guy on laugh track is effective.
swSephy | Sim Racing (3 years ago)
He's wicked smaht.
Nathan Baxter (3 years ago)
Toast
John Doe35 (3 years ago)
'' one even goes all the way to the big bang '' That cracked me up.
Lumian (3 years ago)
Great talk!!!!  :)
jandroid33 (3 years ago)
The bumblebee does not know that it can't make toast.
TheAnnoyingGunner (3 years ago)
It can. A tiny toaster with a tiny slice of bread. You never see them because they only take them out at night.
Rampant Obesity (3 years ago)
First he says talking gets in the way, then he says it's the conversations that are important.
Tis Toni (5 months ago)
talking is sooo 20th century.... in the 21st century, we do not talk. yOu clearly lagging behind the cutting edge of social science.
autofires (3 years ago)
Yeah confused me but I think he meant collaboration was important, as opposed to conversation. This ties in with other studies that claim (roughly speaking) that the brain activity associated with verbal communication inhibits other creative/intuitive aspects of brain activity.
Priderice Rice (3 years ago)
Mom make me toast xdd
(3 years ago)
works for anything ofcourse, programm engineering for example
chAndLer .bong (3 years ago)
hows this different from mind maps exactly? not being sarcastic I'm genuinely interested in this stuff
unit83 (3 years ago)
That laughing guy in the audience... UGH!
Ann Lake (3 years ago)
excellent.  
RSP (3 years ago)
That guy's laugh...
DrRawley (3 years ago)
Better option:  Play 'I am Bread'.
dootu (3 years ago)
TOAST!!!
DrRawley (3 years ago)
nnnngghhhh TOAST!
Priscilla Wilson (3 years ago)
The last one is most correct: heat source on bread. The group is all males.
Gareth Field (3 years ago)
Hi, I hope this adds to hope, an observation that the audience is both male and female. Best wishes,
- TheFinn - (3 years ago)
Seems more like an advertisement.
Othman Anis Guerhli (9 months ago)
Just checked the website mate, it's totally free and open source and ad-free, maybe you'd be offering this guy some DATA to wrok with, nothing more.
M3G4G0TH (3 years ago)
this is pretty funny ahahha :D but makes sense! love it!
nearly everyone (3 years ago)
this reminds me of those beginning programming assignments where they tell you write down the instructions of how to make a sandwich and then demonstrate what happens if someone follows those instructions at face value.
Cure4Living (3 years ago)
Yeah but these flowcharts are too simplistic, commonly you would include conditional and branching statements. Here the logic of why and when one node flows into another is never captured. Unless someone has pre-existing knowledge regarding the toasting process they'd be unable to make sense of this.
Javier Sánchez (3 years ago)
Nice video, I need to do exactly this on today's meeting.

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