Something that I often find  troubling is people tell me, “David, you have to show people information in a way they can best consume it”.  My initial reaction was, “No, they have to understand the best way to understand what I’m saying is to use the charts I use to present that information”. But that way I get told, “You’re telling them they have to get into your world, rather than getting into theirs and pulling them in the right direction”.

Then, I swung around to believing what we have to do is adopt an infographics approach and use every which way we can charts. A short BBC4 programme kicked off this line of thought – “The Joy of Stats”. Dr Hans Rosling (who died earlier this year) was a hugely engaging and enthusiastic speaker on the use of statistics and visualisation to engage wide audiences. Here’s a 5-minute excerpt from one of his pieces of work:

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Remarkable stuff!

But then I got to thinking, and it goes back to a previous blog series on the future of performance management

So we know, from the days of Monty Python, that accountants are boring! But when they do want to review the health of an organisation, they don’t reach for every which way infographics! There’s a standard set of tools (developed over 500 years of financial performance measurement) that they use (P&L, Assets and Liabilities, etc.). My proposition in those previous blogs and still today is “What is the message you are trying to get across?”. If it is simply engaging people with “enumerative” statistics, then by all means turn to the infographics shelf! BUT, if you want to show whether something you measure is improving or deteriorating, then reach for the standard set of tools (developed over about 50 years of operational performance measurement) – and that means using extended-SPC techniques – which can be fun and exciting – honest!!

Or the alternative? You might be committed to the “Life of Pie”!


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