Aristotle once said: ‘Thought is impossible without an image’. He was right; humans are highly visual creatures, and we think best when we can picture the subject of our thoughts.
The visual cortex is the largest single system in the human brain. 50% of our nerve fibres are associated with vision and it accounts for two thirds of the brain’s electrical activity.
However, not only are we highly visual creatures, evolution has ensured that we are primarily 3D visual creatures.
Why do we favour 3D images?
Vision emerged as a capability some 545 million years ago in the Cambrian Explosion. Our sea-creature ancestors developed the ability to adapt their behaviour and increase their chances of survival based on visual cues from the world around them – a world they saw in 3D.
By contrast, abstract thought appears to have emerged around 70,000 years ago, writing around 3500 years ago, and virtual environments only really entered the mainstream in the last 20 years.
We have 545 million years of evolutionary history behind our ability to make sense of a physical 3D space, but only 0.00013% of that 545 million year period making sense of language, 0.000005% making sense of writing, and 0.000000036% making sense of the virtual world.
It’s no surprise we have an enormous evolutionary sweet spot for intuitively making sense of a 3D physical space.
Speed up your understanding
Evolution has ensured we are adept at creating 3D mental models based on the 2D retinal images that hit the eyes.
We are not as good at making sense of abstract information or 2D images and shapes because, in evolutionary terms, these have only been a part of our experienced reality for a very short time.
For example, see how quickly you can comprehend the information contained in the two images below:
Both of images contain similar information (they are drawings of the same building), but the 3D image is much quicker and easier to comprehend.
On average people make sense of the 3D image around 4x faster than they do the 2D image.
3D images are also a more efficient format for displaying information.
Here you can see a simple cube displayed in three different formats: 2D, 3D and semi-transparent 3D.
The table shows how many of the total possible elements of the cube can be displayed.
The 3D and semi-transparent 3D images provide the brain with more information (73% and 100% of the elements compared with just 34% from the 2D format).
As a result, the brain can construct a more detailed mental model.
Real vs virtual
We now live in a world that consists of 3 separate domains:
- Physical Domain
- Cognitive Domain
- Virtual Domain
The Physical Domain
When Henry Ford launched the Ford Model T in 1908, were he to stand back and think about that business, almost every aspect of it – from car production to finances – would have existed in the physical domain. He could have reached out and touched everything.
His business existed in the physical domain.
It may have been complicated but, given our inherent understanding of 3D environments and physical space, we would be able to comprehend every aspect of Henry Ford’s enterprise.
The Cognitive Domain
This is where we create mental models based on the sensory inputs received from our nervous system, which is, in turn, reflecting an external reality.
It’s where we attempt to make sense of our experiences.
The Virtual Domain
The virtual domain is everything the physical domain is not – it is essentially ones and zeros on a server somewhere.
It began to form during the Information Revolution of the last 50 to 60 years but has really only come to significantly affect our lives over the last couple of decades.
Forming such a tiny fraction of our evolutionary past, it is no surprise we often find this 2D, abstract domain somewhat confusing and bewildering.
Evolution has not optimised us to intuitively make sense of a virtual world.
Of course, with training a person can understand the virtual domain, but this prerequisite of specialist knowledge means understanding is limited to small groups operating in specialised fields.
Most of us are largely ignorant of the mechanics of the virtual domain.
For example, how many of us know how the internet works, or how the money from your bank account makes its way to another account when you hit the ‘Make Payment’ button on your mobile?
The challenges of information-age business
Information-age organisations are just people, data and promises.
The abstract nature of the virtual domain makes it difficult to understand and navigate. This creates serious challenges for both individuals and businesses.
- Organisations are difficult to understand A lack of physical or tangible elements means our brains do not intuitively make sense of information about a business or organisation.
- Silos of expertise are created People become very expert at what they do, but often don’t communicate well across the organisation. As a result, the wider business does not benefit from the silos of expertise.
- Few see the ‘big picture’ Silos of specialisation mean few people understand how the wider organisation works end to end.
- Strategic decisions are difficult to make Without an accurate systemic perspective it is very difficult to make informed and effective strategic decisions.
Is your business getting the most from its staff?
- Decision making is flawed Decisions are not always made by people at the appropriate level and, as a result, may not be well-informed. Frequently the decision-making process is far too long.
- An over-reliance on key employees Silos of expertise focus on key individuals – which creates vulnerability for an organisation.
- Low levels of staff engagement Employees don’t understand the context of their role or what they need to do to achieve an organisation’s wider goals.
- New staff cannot ‘hit the ground running’ Productivity is reduced as new staff take time to understand the wider context of the business and the systems in which they operate.
- Collaboration is stifled Silos of expertise make collaboration – and, therefore, innovation and growth – difficult to achieve.
How can 3D images help your business?
We have an innate ability to make sense of a 3D physical space but, as a result of the information age, we now largely operate in a non-physical space that we do not intuitively understand.
If you can’t visualise your strategy, how will you realise your strategy?
The answer lies in creating a 3D representation of every element of your organisation – and that is what we’ve done with EMMa3D.
EMMa3D transforms the virtual systems of your organisation into 3D models you intuitively understand.
By creating a 3D map that is in tune with our evolutionary propensity to make sense of the physical domain, it allows you to:
- Navigate your business from end to end
- Make more strategic decisions
- Enhance employee engagement
- Reduce fragility in the business
- Facilitate collaboration and productivity
Contact us to see how you could visualise every aspect of your organisation in one interactive 3D space.