Strategic Alignment through Data Visualization
Last year South by Southwest introduced Ogilvy Notes. Ogilvy Notes are visual representations of session highlights created by graphic facilitators, ImageThink. SXSW understands that there is simply a limit to how much the brain can absorb and retain, and Ogilvy Notes ensures that attendees will be able to look back later and remember key highlights. The popularity of graphic recording is part of a larger trend toward uncovering new methods of helping employees and teams sort through the clutter and gain clarity of focus.
In the 2002 book Information Visualization in Data Mining and Knowledge Discovery, Jim Gray writes, “Data visualization has lagged its sister disciplines of data capture, data storage, data analysis, and knowledge discovery… there is still a huge gap between our ability to extract answers and our ability to present the information in meaningful ways.” In other words, while we’ve become quite good at collecting data, we’re still struggling to use it in ways that matter.
The goal of data visualization is to cut through the noise and focus on what matters most. Several years ago a client of ours was struggling to help her team easily grasp the key concepts from a large market research project we had conducted. She needed something simple, concise, visual, and that coined the apt term “Million Dollar Slide.” The Million Dollar Slide was the final piece in the market research puzzle that helped her move the data from research answers to understanding. This ideal is something we still work hard to achieve in every deliverable.
When data visualization is done right it can add enormous value to an organization. Leaders spend less time struggling through long reports, and groups can quickly gather around a singular vision. Whether this is the colorful notes created by ImageThink, an executive summary in a report, or an infographic summarizing key data points the goal of data visualization should always be to achieve this unity of focus. And in companies that are required to always do more with less this can make a million dollars worth of difference.
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