Journal of a Visual AnalystReading time 5 minutes
March 3, 2019
Today we were going to present the mid-term results of our productivity analysis to the MT with our research team. We’ve been working on this monster of a project for over a year and the stakes are high, so we must make sure the MT understands what we’ve discovered and that they can determine what adjustments need to come from them! Together with Raúl and Lucy, we would explain the analysis and then have a short period to discuss follow-up steps, I was nervous about it.
After all, we had been struggling with the team to get clear for ourselves what the numbers meant, and I also couldn’t say I felt all confident about presenting the data to the MT in an hour. Well…my fears were well-founded. It. Was. A. SHITSHOW. The MT didn’t understand anything, it seemed like Raúl didn’t understand how we arrived at our conclusions in the first place, Lucy was just hammering away at the graphs, and I…I didn’t remember either. We thought we knew how to make complex data understandable, but apparently, we didn’t!
Diary, I have spring fever, I feel so happy! After that fiasco of our productivity presentation, I took the opportunity to help another research team with their data processing. A small break from analyzing. But what happened there! I was able to watch that research team analyze their data and it was crazy! I was a little hesitant at first when I entered their space and saw all those people with post-its and markers (and even charcoal) in action, but when they took me through it briefly, I suddenly realized: yay! I’ve been here less than 15 minutes and I immediately understand what they did, what kind of data they got in, and what the conclusions are!
The project leader told us that the team had been trained as Visual Thinkers to help clarify complex connections and structures. They’ve had a similar experience as we had with our research team. Coming in, I thought it was chaotic and unnecessary, all those sketches and post-its, but looking at it now, I suddenly see all the connections! When I’m done with the data processing on this project, I’m definitely going to see how we can apply Visual Thinking to our own productivity analysis!
I’m still in the middle of my peak! I didn’t dare bring my team into this euphoria right away, I first started by delving into some Visual Thinking books myself. I learned how to use shapes, color, text, and simple illustrations to make connections. At our next discussion of the study, I presented my part using some self-drawn graphs. Those few clear graphs made our discussion go so much smoother; Raúl knew immediately what impact this was going to have on his part of the study. Lucy also immediately got excited and was able to ask substantive questions effortlessly. For our next midterm presentation with the MT, all three of us dove into Visual Thinking. Together we went through our data and used visual techniques to analyze the data and create some simple graphs and infographics to use during our presentation. Well, I was nervous again about this meeting, but this time they were good nerves! The MT was super lively discussing and asking questions. It was much easier for us to talk to them about it and we all walked away from the meeting with a sense of accomplishment and clarity about the next steps. Raúl, Lucy, and I looked at each other for a moment and we realized, Visual Thinking: makes data a lot clearer!
Hello diary, it’s been a while again, but man a lot has changed. I am so happy with my team. Since we started immersing ourselves in Visual Thinking, we are so much more effective in our work with each other and with others! Because other departments with whom we came in contact saw the fruits of our work, there is a change going on in the organization! The MT wants all research teams (as well as other departments!) to start mastering Visual Thinking. They believe this is a great addition and can also support the communication of our data and insights to clients.
I try to apply it as much as possible in our work, for presentations to make the information insightful to others, but also for ourselves to get to those insights faster.
I won’t be wandering off to another team for some data processing jobs anytime soon, I’m really enjoying my current work and Visual Thinking way too much!
A Visual Analyst
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