What’s Your Iceberg?

Lately, I’ve been seeing more iceberg infographics.

You know what I’m talking about. Visuals that depict the visible and invisible. The known and unknown. The concept that we only scratch the “tip of the iceberg” when we focus on what we see and not the 90 percent below the surface or water line.

Sigmund Freud used the iceberg as an analogy for the levels of the mind, the conscious and unconscious. Ernest Hemingway created the iceberg theory or theory of omission to define a new writing technique on “how to get the most from the least,” according to his biographer, Carlos Baker. Hemingway strengthened his stories by pruning language, adding nuances and omitting details. He “demanded that the reader feel the whole story” and “fill in the gaps left by his omissions with their feelings,” according to Zoe Trodd in her paper, “Hemingway’s Camera Eye.”

Use an iceberg to communicate a difficult topic

An iceberg allows you to break down a complicated issue into smaller pieces to be examined and discussed. In the past year, I’ve seen iceberg graphics on systemic racism and social justice, culture, harassment and so much more.

Are you facing a complex communications challenge within your own organization or industry? How about creating an iceberg graphic? That way, you can see the whole picture. You’ll remember to look at what’s going on above and below the surface.

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