Create better visualizations to make it easier to solve problems

One challenge when solving problems together is to create good visualizations of the ideas or data that you need to discuss. Scott Berinato shows a simple model and some useful tips in his article Visualizations that really work. He has two questions that I think are really good to answer before you try to design a graph or image:

  • Am I declaring or exploring something? There is a big difference between telling people how things are (e.g. our productivity is decreasing) or if you are not sure and want to discover something together with the participants (e.g. what is the reason behind our decrease in productivity)?
  • Is it data-driven or conceptual? Are you using quantitative data (e.g. revenue, productivity, lead time, …) or are you showing something qualitative (organizational structure, processes, and ideas)?

These two questions help you figure out what you want to achieve and focus how you work, and in the article, he creates a useful model and gives lots of examples for how to make simple and effective visualizations.

I think the most important thing to think about when creating a visualization is that the purpose is to simplify ideas, data, and concepts. They are there to help people solve problems together.