We were delighted to see Michelle Obama’s insightful comments on the relationship between complex problems, data analytics and creating the future that were embedded in her speech last night at the Democratic National Convention. Who knew she knew data analytics?! Michelle gave a glimpse into Presidential sized challenges:
“I’ve seen how the issues that come across a President’s desk are always the hard ones – the problems where no amount of data or numbers will get you to the right answer…” Michelle Obama
We certainly agree!
As trendy as the data analytics and data visualization movements have become and as useful as data analytics are to all organizations today, outside of those movements it has been recognized for some time that data analysis is capable of generating only certain types of pictures.
In our change making work with organizational leaders we find that a useful first question to ask is WHEN is the picture that you seek to create? Are you seeking to create a picture of Yesterday, Today or Tomorrow?
We ask this knowing that any serious look at the history of data visualization will surface the realization that the vast majority of data visualizations that have been generated since the 18th century as well as those being generated today are pictures of yesterday and today, not pictures of tomorrow. In spite of advancing technology tools that orientation inside the data visualization business has not changed in 226+ years!
At Humantific we certainly recognize that while data analysis and data visualizations can significantly enhance organizational sensemaking of yesterday and today, pictures of tomorrow need to be cocreated. The not so hidden truth is that cocreating futures together requires a very different kind of skill-set than simply crunching and visualizing data sets.
Most forms of complex problem solving, all forms of meaningful organizational change and societal change require cocreation across many constituents, many disciplines. However well intentioned, change making is rarely as simple as placing visualized data in front of human eyeballs. Lets get real. If effective change making was that simple we would be living in a quite different world today.
This cocreation realization has been at the center of our Humantific work since we founded the company in 2001. We are deeply involved in visual sensemaking and realize that its real value is made possible in the context of cocreation. It is a realization that we share with the organizations that we have ongoing work with. Savvy organizational leaders are already operating in the beyond data analytics era. In that next era that is already here, sensemaking and cocreation are deeply intertwined.
Full transcript of Michelle Obama’s Convention Speech
Humantific CoFounder, Elizabeth Pastor presents SenseMaking for ChangeMaking at the “Data Designed for Decisions Conference” in Paris.