Visualizing the Outcome Means Seeing the Steps Along the Way by Sheldon Reiffenstein and Elizabeth Pfeifer

We have been taught over the past decade or so to visualize our goals. Teachers are told to plan their lessons with the end (the assessment of learning) in mind; doctors devise treatment plans consisting of various components to cure a patient; and athletes are coached to visualize the race in their heads before exiting the gate. Making it to the end,however, isn’t just about seeing a smiling student waving an “A+” test, a cancer patient sobbing with joy at being told they are in remission, or a skier crossing the finish line. Visualization also consists of being able to see – and thus plan for – the steps involved in the process.

The New York Times recently ran a terrific series of graphics involving Olympic Slalom gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin’s winning run. The graphic is composed of a series of pictures taken yard-by-yard just as she had trained to see it. This type of visualization has been called small multiples by Edward Tufte, who has been called the world’s leading analyst of visual information. Small multiples, says Tufte, “visually enforce comparisons of change,” allowing for uninterrupted visual reasoning.∗  Notice, at one point how Shiffrin almost loses control, falls back on her skis for the slightest moment, but recovers to win the gold medal. Small multiples are just one way to visualize the steps to success.

Business journeys rarely run completely smoothly. Almost inevitably, a business will “fall back on its skis” as some problem occurs that has the potential to knock it off course. But, like the teacher, the doctor and the athlete who have planned their course, when a customer can harness the power of the visualization process, they have the ability to readjust and, using their visual map of steps to successful outcome, they can recover and achieve their goal.

 

Tufte, E. (1990). Envisioning Information. (p. 67). Cheshire, CT: Graphics Press LLC.

 

 

 

Rules We Live By

In a recent post, our friends at FastCo Design spotlighted Alison Haigh’s beautiful reinterpretation of the periodic table — we, too, are big fans of this incredible design.

In Alison’s version of the periodic table, gone are the letter combinations standing in place of such obscure elements as flerovium and hassium. Instead, Alison’s minimalist yet elegant design shows the gradual increase in electrons among the elements, not only providing a new twist on a familiar subject but opening up the table to new and useful insights.

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Happy Slurpee Day!

Luckily for those of us in the D.C. studio, there’s a 7-11 a few blocks down the road. So on this extremely special holiday of 7/11, we partook in an 11-year old tradition: Free Slurpee Day. Every year now, on July 11th (or November 7th for those metric-minded folk around the world), 7-11 gives out free 7.11 ounce Slurpees. The cool slushy drinks are in smaller than normal cups, sure, but who’s complaining about a free refreshment on a hot day?

Slurpee’s are a 7-11 trademark, and the interactive infographic below from Visual.ly shows the history of the brain-freeze inducing beverage. So learn the backstory, head out and grab a free taste of a cold treat.

 

Top Searches, Up to the Minute

Google is very fond of their visualizations, from their special doodles that pay tribute to the history of a day to silly tricks embedded in their search function (type “do a barrel roll” into a search). Another thing the company is fond of is their data. They track search data for a variety of functions such as targeted advertisements or tailored search results.

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