Tag Archives: john sviokla

“A good sketch is better than a long speech”

According to this Harvard Business blog, posted by John Sviokla, the headline is a quote often attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte. Below is a sample of a “sketch” that illustrates his premise that there are three strong reasons to pay attention to data visualization when tackling business problems.

The graphic shows a big section of Iowa and a little of the surrounding states, depicting potential demand in the market by darker colors. We gathered this information from external sources and matched it down to localities by state. This "layer" depicts the market potential. The next layer adds the performance of the agencies, shown with different-colored markers
Skiovla writes that the graphic above "shows a big section of Iowa and a little of the surrounding states, depicting potential demand in the market by darker colors. We gathered this information from external sources and matched it down to localities by state. This 'layer' depicts the market potential. The next layer adds the performance of the agencies, shown with different-colored markers."

I came across this through Holy Kaw! from Alltop. Sviokla’s three reasons to provide data visualization are actually questions to ask yourself when you face a problem, or process improvement challenge:

  1. Is there a simple map or maps of information that could make my life easier?
  2. Do we have the ability to take the myriad data and synthesize it into these new forms?
  3. How much time does the organization waste arguing about the facts instead of deepening understanding or crafting solutions?

The take-away: It doesn’t always work, but there are times where you can best solve a problem — and win consensus for that solution — by giving the data over to your graphing software. (My personal favorite way to show data online is Google’s free charts API).