Tag: Data Analysis

18
Dec

Another OTHER Design Thinking

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Here at Humantific we are always delighted to see design education community change initiatives inspired by The OTHER Design Thinking 2013-2014, Occupy Reimagining Design 2011 and the body of work within NextDesign Futures 2002-2014. Are you ready to be surprised?

Yes that’s right, there is Another OTHER Design Thinking out there, just announced!

Last week the academically focused PhD Design discussion list, well known in the transformation practice community for being slow to adapt, least effective, and often unfortunately down-right nasty when it comes to the subject of design futures made what was for that group, a big leap forward. A few of its loudest, self-appointed leaders announced in a 3 page manifesto posted inside their debating group and across social media that they were finally ready to recognize a multiple part change wave occurring beyond the confines of their circle.Continue Reading..

19
Nov

A Portrait of California 2014-2015

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Humantific for Good is delighted to announce the publication of A Portrait of California 2014-2015. This amazing series from Measure of America is transforming the role that data informed visual sensemaking and insight creation are playing in policy making and change making.

Since 2006 Humantific for Good has been working with Measure of America, an initiative of the Social Science Research Council.

“Portrait of California 2014-2015 brings together data, innovative analysis, the American HD Index and visual sensemaking to enable engaging “apples-to-apples” comparisons of California’s counties, major cities, 265 Census Bureau–defined areas, women and men, and racial and ethnic groups.”

Created by authors Sarah Burd-Sharps and Kristen Lewis, A Portrait of California 2014-2015 is part of Measure of America social sensemaking book series as well as related conversations and interactive tools.

CONSORTIUM OF FUNDERS

Blue Shield of California Foundation
California Community Foundation
Conrad N. Hilton Foundation
Humantific For Good
The California Endowment
The James Irvine Foundation
The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation
United Ways of California
Weingart Foundation

Key Findings in A Portrait of California 2014-2015:

“Income inequality is in the headlines these days. But to focus on inequality in income alone is to take a narrow view of the problem. Mutually reinforcing inequalities in health, education, environment, neighborhood conditions, wealth, and political power have created an opportunity divide that higher wages alone cannot bridge.

If California were a country, it would rank thirty-fourth in the world by population and eighth by the size of its economy—big enough for a seat at the G8. So what happens in California has national, and even international, significance.

This 2014–2015 update of the 2011 California report allows us to compare outcomes from one place to another and to look at changes over time. The result is a comprehensive reference tool and a critical starting point for informed discussions on change making policy solutions.”

Related:

 Breathing Life into Numbers

Portrait of Sonoma County Launches

SenseMaking for ChangeMaking

29
Apr

Data Visualization as Innovation Fuel

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Contributing recently to the Markets for Good blog, Humantific CoFounder GK VanPatter wrote Data Visualization Meets CoCreation.

In this brief paper GK suggests to the philathropic community, taking advantage of what leading business organizations have already learned: that innovation involves equal amounts of challenge framing, idea-making and decision-making. Improving decision-making is not in itself, a formula for enabling cross-disciplinary innovation.

GK suggests moving beyond just data visualization and decision-making to utilize sense-making visualizations as fuel for cocreated innovation. In the organizations that Humantific works with sense-making visualizations are already playing key roles in every phase of the change-making process from the early fuzzy situation stages through to ideation and implementation.Continue Reading..

05
Mar

Data Visualization Meets Co-Creation

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The good folks at Markets for Good / A Social Sector Powered by Information recently invited Humantific to contribute to their exploratory conversation on the subject of Data Visualization in the social sector.

You can read the full unedited version of GK VanPatter’s contribution including references to deciphering your organizational challenges in this downloadable PDF: Data Visualization Meets CoCreation or read the short version on the Markets for Good blog.

“Time is flying by around the Big Data phenomenon so let’s shift gears and kick it up a few notches from what your readers might be expecting here… Big Data is occurring, not in isolation, but rather in parallel to numerous other paradigm shifts …Lets set aside the tactics of Big Data for a moment and consider the bigger strategic picture…What these new generation leaders have in mind looks more like data thinking meets complex problem visualization, data meets and informs strategic cocreation.” GK VanPatter

Humantific Survey / Social Sector Challenge Mapping

From the 10 challenges listed in the attached document choose 3 challenges that are most important to your organization right now and place them in chronological order of importance (with most important at the top). Feel free to post them on the Markets for Good blog or below. If you have another challenge not listed, feel free to add it to your list.  We will share the results.

Related Posts:

Markets for Giving Workshop

Markets For Good Heavy Lift

Mapping Markets For Good

10
Dec

Scrooge Meets Data Analytics

We love the 1951 film adaptation of Christmas Carol story and its relationship to data analytics and data storytelling so we are reposting this for our readers who might have missed it last year…:-)

You have no doubt watched the classic Scrooge a million times but try watching it this year anew with your Making Sense of Big Data hat on. Is data analytics a form of time travel? You betcha! Take a wild guess where data analysts are most often traveling to? Whats often missing in data analytics chit-chat? View Scrooge and reflect!

Written by social change advocate Charles Dickens in 1843, Christmas Carol contains so many themes that are relevant today. It can be viewed as a story about poverty and injustice, redemption and transformation, the demise of industrial capitalism, workaholics versus lifeaholics, corporate values, how not to create corporate cultures, ghosts, greed and morality, the reenvisioning of philanthropy, etc.

What Dickens originally had in mind in 1843 was an advocacy-oriented report regarding the state of the poor and the need for change in 19th century England. Instead of doing a report he decided to create a softer, much more sticky and enduring advocacy, in the form of the Christmas Carol story.

We could not help but notice that miraculously the structure of this classic film maps directly to our SenseWHEN lens that we often use in transformation work with organizational leaders. In SenseWHEN we ask: When is the picture that you want to create? Are you seeking to create pictures of Yesterday, Today or Tomorrow? In the context of the film this is the equivalent to visitation from the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come.

Thinking business school case studies for a moment, one could say that Ebenezer Scrooge was in fact an organizational leader. In the film we get to see him embark on what turns out to be a journey to create a new personal and organizational strategy. He takes the journey unwillingly but perhaps what is most important to take note of in the film is where he ends up in relation to what the data was projecting.

Of course from a cinematic perspective the pictures seen in the film of Yesterday (Christmas Past), Today (Christmas Present) and Tomorrow (Christmas Yet to Come) all look the same visually. In real life, real world we would recognize that two of those views, Yesterday and Today, could be / would be based on data and one would be a Tomorrow prediction based on existing patterns. The picture of Christmas Yet to Come was, on Ebenezer’s behalf, a product of 1843 predictive analytics in action.

This is beautifully remarkable when we consider that our own recent study of two centuries of data visualizations showed that 98% were pictures of Yesterday and or Today. Out of almost 1000 data visualizations in the study only 2% were attempts at pictures of Tomorrow. Here in this 1951 film we can see not only a picture of Tomorrow but also coming into view is what role it played in the formulation of Ebenezer’s strategy.

We noticed that the future picture that was based on data projections turns out to be NOT the future that comes true for Ebenezer. In a wonderfully entertaining way the story makes clear that there are multiple futures possible. Of course data based prediction is useful but not necessarily conclusive.

After seeing the picture of Tomorrow based on behavioral projections, the film shows Scrooge waking up in a state of enlightenment to begin immediately redesigning his future in real time starting immediately on Christmas morning. The future that Ebenezer now has in mind for himself and his organization is quite opposite to the future that was based on projecting patterns from Yesterday and Today into the future.

In this sense the story brings into focus a magical juncture that is known by many of us doing generative future work to exist between today and tomorrow. It is a moment that occurs after the three SenseWHEN views have appeared and been absorbed. In the film we see Scrooge in that magic moment essentially stepping through a doorway or gateway rejecting one future and embracing the possibility of designing another. It is a beautiful thing!

Remarkably we see very similar patterns (without the ghosts) of reflection, analysis, generation, recombination, reformulation, gateway in much of the futuring work that we do with organizations today.

Rather than viewing data as prescriptive of future outcomes it is more often being used as fuel to inspire and create “straw man” scenarios, which may or may not ultimately be embraced as part of future design. For many enlightened leaders the purpose of data based scenarios is less about prescribing and more about informing possibilities.

While more and better data makes for better future projections the underlying physics of the universe have not changed much since the time of Dickens. Until humans figure out how to bend the laws of the universe the future remains one step ahead of us, whether we all like it or not.

If Ebenezer had mistaken the data projected future as the one and only option, if he took it as prescriptive rather than informative his transformation and that of his organization would not have been realized, at least not in the particularly positive way that comes into view as the film ends with Scrooge walking into his newly designed future. Lots to think about there.

Until someone takes the link down you can check out the 1951 film starring Alastir Sim as Scrooge for free on YouTube.

Related:

Big Data For WHEN?

Note: This post was first published here on the Humantific blog on December 22, 2012.

09
Dec

Consider TIME / Big Data For WHEN?

In this new series, Humantific SenseMaker Insights, we will be sharing a few tips based on our 15+ years of work and experience in the realm of helping organizational leaders make sense of complex fuzzy situations. Sometimes mountains of data exists in those often pressing situations, while in others, little or no data exists–but regardless there is need to drive forward.

Today, in the avalanche of Big Data crashing on all of our shores and in the marketplace push to consider data a “new natural resource”, a now abundant shapeable material, do you ever get the feeling that something important in that messaging is not being acknowledged, explained, or talked about?

In the competitive (some might say over-hyped) marketplace, what we often see missing in Big Data conversations is the simple acknowledgement that data sets are particularly useful in the construction of certain types, not all types of pictures. Apart from the many technology-related advances, certain basic data-related principles still apply–at least until humans figure out how to work around or change the underlying physics of the universe..:-)

Recently a Humantific Visual Analytics Team undertook an analysis of 200 years of data visualizations with the goal of better understanding what kinds of pictures have been made, historically, using various forms of data. Some readers might be surprised by the findings.

Acknowledging that not all data visualization is being used in the context of organizational or societal innovation it is this particular realm that we remain focused on and interested in. The interconnections between information and innovation acceleration have been at the center of Humantific’s work for more than fifteen years. While swimming in the data tsunami lets not forget a few innovation fundamentals.

In all of our visual sensemaking work we are building-block agnostic. We are not tied to only being able to make pictures based on data-sets alone. Others might be. At Humantific data is just one material used in the construction of informing pictures.

Among our first questions in any visual sensemaking engagement is this one introducing the consideration of time: WHEN is the picture that you seek to create? Asking WHEN inevitably informs the equation of what it is that will likely be needed to construct your picture. Data might or might not be the right “material”. To consider such a question, we, at Humantific, use a simple SenseWHEN viewing lens that contains these three parts: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.

We recognize that the creation of Yesterday (Past), Today (Present) and Tomorrow (Future) pictures require quite different considerations and building materials. We have known for some time that data analytics and data visualizations are great for constructing pictures of Yesterday and Today. Tomorrow pictures are often inspired and/or informed by data, but no data exists for the not-yet-arrived future, regardless if that future is next year, next week, or ten minutes from now.

While we certainly acknowledge all the promising innovations underway in the realm of data-based predictive analytics, it remains true that today, in one way or another, pictures of Tomorrow have to be created from a “magic” mix of facts, presumptions, visions, projections, and ideas. In addition, many leaders are certainly well aware that in the context of organizational change and societal change (wicked problems), pictures of Tomorrow (solutions) most often have to be constructed in a manner that is conducive to buy-in by multiple constituents, ie: cocreation.

At Humantific we do a lot of futuring work with organizations and, so, are often called upon to help design and construct interfaces, tools, and experiences to help humans cocreate pictures of Today-Tomorrow as well as the subsequent bridge-building. Organizational leaders often call upon our team to lead the multi-stakeholder cocreation of the bridges of change between the Today and Tomorrow pictures. How are we going to get to that future? Often it’s going to take considerable work and change, including behaviors. We will talk more about this and share additional insights in this direction in future posts.

To undertake the sample view across a 200+ year period of data visualizations, the Humantific Visual Analytics Team utilized 5 well known books, including William Playfair’s 1786 AtlasGraphic Methods for Presenting Facts (1917), Graphic Presentation (1939), Visual Complexity Mapping Patterns of Information (2011), and Information Graphics (2012). Inside the 5 volumes we viewed nearly 1000 visualizations.

Looking across that two century time span, what we found was that 98% of the data visualizations were pictures of Yesterday or Today. Out of the 989 diagrams created over a two century period only 2% were attempts at pictures of Tomorrow.

In terms of proportional orientation, the earliest book from 1786 was not significantly different from the latest Information Graphics compendium for 2012. In Playfair’s 1786 book, 100% of the visualizations were comprised of Yesterday and Today pictures. In the new book Information Graphics, published in 2012, 95% of the visualizations were comprised of Yesterday and Today pictures. That is not much of a change across two centuries!

While embracing the many opportunities that Big Data represents, we have found in our own experience that organizational and societal changemaking tends to be more complex than data crunching, data visualization and data based projections. While all of those activities can certainly be informative we recognize that there is a lot more to changemaking and futuremaking then understanding pictures.

We share these kinds of perspectives with the organizational leaders working with Humantific, as they are tasked with figuring out how best to envision futures and then drive change in organizations and societies.

The Big Truth about Big Data is that it is unlikely that “data visualization” alone will get you to the future that you have in mind for your organization or your society. It can help you get there. It can help you better understand Yesterday and Today, which often informs Tomorrow–but let’s be real and acknowledge that more and different kinds of work are also going to be needed along the way. Humantific is already working on the other side of this realization. The “Beyond Big Data Visualization Era” is not only already here, it has been here for some time…:-)

Inspired by Humantific:

“The Other Visualization.”

Related here on this Humantific site:

Making Sense of the Early SenseMakers

Lost Stories Information Design History

Before, During and After Isotype

Feel free to subscribe to Humantific Quarterly.
14
Nov

Philips Making Sense of Chaos

Aligned in a parallel universe, this week we were delighted to see Philips bringing SenseMaking and CoCreation to the forefront of their point of view on the Big Data wave in a new just published white paper entitled “Making Sense of the Chaos, From Data Mining to Data Meaning”

Across every industry, we are seeing more and more large organizations recognizing the power of Visual SenseMaking and CoCreated ChangeMaking as the so-called Transformation Economy, or Social Business Economy takes hold.

We would highly recommend reading this Philips paper. Here are a few highlights:

The data world is still very much in its infancy. The debate about exactly what it is, where it is going, and how everyone will get there has just begun.”

Data is the new natural resource. Media pundits, scientists, and futurists the world over are hailing the information gathered by connected devices as more important to this century than oil was to the 20th century. Just as crude can be used to make anything from plastics to petrol, so data has the potential to fuel global economies. By bringing us potentially limitless information about ourselves, our communities, and our world, data promises to transform the way we live and work.”

“But as the analogy (which is now well known in the data world) implies, it needs to be refined to give it meaning and value. Raw data on its own is nothing but a senseless bunch of numbers, letters, or words. And as anyone who has tried to read through spreadsheets of thousands of figures will know, it can be tiring and confusing. For consumers and companies lacking the know-how to interpret that data, this can become a source of anxiety too, as they struggle to keep up with the latest changes in the world.”

“But the biggest revenue streams will not come purely from technical solutions. Instead, the key to making dollars out of data lies in finding the insights among the chaos and white noise by moving from data mining to data meaning. Companies which manage to turn complex data into seemingly simple services and platforms that make sense to people — improving their relationships, health, happiness, and connection to the world — will create strong bonds and enduring connections to their customers.”

“Designing these complex propositions requires a co-creative mindset.”

See more here:

05
Sep

Michelle Obama talks Data Analytics!

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

Related:

Humantific CoFounder, Elizabeth Pastor presents SenseMaking for ChangeMaking at the “Data Designed for Decisions Conference” in Paris.

Lost Stories in Information Design History

Out of Balance Competition Launches

30
Jan

Lost Stories Information Design History

In a competitive business marketplace, not everyone wants to acknowledge that each generation tends to learn from, build on, or divert from the previous generation’s ideas and output. We see this phenomenon clearly evident in the various streams of Visual SenseMaking history.

Predating the important work of Isotype Institute are numerous landmarks in the history of Statistical Graphics, which later evolved into Information Design—some aspects of which evolved into “Information Architecture” and then in a different direction “Visual SenseMaking” today, a subsubsetset of which has evolved into Data Visualization (long story for another day). Some historical landmarks are well known to many, while others remain off most radar screens, especially to new generations. Particularly online, we notice a general lack of historical awareness and crediting in many current data visualization, design and innovation-related discussions.

At Humantific, we have significant interest in the forgotten stories, lost stories, and off-the-beaten-path landmarks of sensemaking and changemaking history, as they have the potential to inform present day understanding significantly. We try to gather such stories and make them part of the collection that we share here publicly. One such landmark publication is Willard Cope Brinton’s 1917 book, Graphic Methods for Presenting Facts.

Willard C. Brinton (1880-1957) remains a relative unknown, one of several largely unsung, historical visual thinking pioneers. No entry for Brinton appears on Wikipedia, for example. Who he was, what he did, and why it was important is one of many stories buried in the history of Information Design.

Published in black and white when Brinton was thirty-four years old, the 371 page Graphic Methods for Presenting Facts is an impressive, early survey of what would today be considered to be bare-bones statistical diagrams and graphic techniques that existed at that moment. Now scarce in original form, this early volume is recognized as the first American book focused on graphic techniques geared for a general audience.

What a rockin’ idea it must have been in 1917 to do a “visual thinking techniques” book! From the book’s introduction: “As far as the author is aware, there is no book published in any language covering the field which it has been attempted to cover here.”

In the book, Brinton refers to himself as a “Consulting Engineer,” and member of the Society of Mechanical Engineers. He had an office here in New York City! He was Chairman of a committee on standards for graphic presentation formed in 1914, as well as a fellow of the American Statistical Association.  An engineering approach is clearly evident, as is the focus on building diagrams based on data, statistics, and facts. Notably, Brinton’s orientation in the book is one of advisor and commentator on the assembled work of others—an orientation that can also be seen, much later, in the work of Edward Tufte.

Graphic Methods for Presenting Facts contains numerous gems, including one particularly significant page in 20th century information design history. On page 39 (shown middle above), one can see an important design idea that Isotype is often given credit for originating. The evolutionary notion of repeating figure icons, rather than increasing their size, to depict size of a group became part of Isotype’s now well-known visual language style. Rumor has it, that Brinton’s book was in Otto Neurath’s 1920’s library. Ninety+ years after it appeared in Brinton’s book, this design idea, in refined form, is still very much in use today.

The truth is, much of the early writing on the subject of Statistical Graphics tends to be tactical; Brinton writes, in his comments, on a particular diagram by others: “This is an admirable piece of presentation even though the lettering and drafting are not quite as good as they might have been if more care had been used…” This kind of tactical commentary on now-out-of-date techniques makes up a large part of the book. Even today, many techniques in any technology get dated very quickly. It is often hard to know what has legs, and what will be gone tomorrow.

Street-parade-charts-p343

At Humantific, we are generally less interested in rapidly dated tactics, and more interested in broader considerations. What we do is look at historical Information Design materials through a time-oriented viewing frame, a simple 3-part lens that we call SenseWHEN. Apart from technique considerations, we want to know: WHEN was the focus of the picture being viewed? Was the goal to create a sensemaking picture of  Yesterday, Today or Tomorrow? We also want to know, at what scale were the views taken? Is this a picture of a person, a product, an organization, or a society?

Utilizing these simple viewing lenses, we notice that much of Information Design history, including that appearing in this early book, has been focused on creating sensemaking pictures of Yesterday and Today. Most often, these are pictures that can be constructed from data sets and facts. Much less frequently in that history, do you see pictures of Tomorrow. This is an entire subject unto itself that we will be writing more about, as it connects directly to what we do at Humantific: How can pictures of Tomorrow be cocreated in real time, by humans from multiple disciplines? It remains a subject that is near and dear to us. It certainly does connect to the history of Information Design seen here, but is rather different in orientation.

If Brinton preceded Neurath’s Isotype, you might be wondering: Who preceded Brinton? In his later, much more graphic, 1939 self-published book entitled Graphic Presentation, Brinton acknowledged that he did not know of the earlier groundbreaking work of William Playfair (1759-1823) when he was working, in 1912, on Graphic Methods for Presenting Facts. Brinton dedicated his 1939 book to Playfair, who is credited with creating some of the earliest examples of diagrams in his 1786, 1801, 1805, and 1822 books. William Playfair was also an Engineer, making pictures of Yesterday and Today.

For those who might not know—yes, before Playfair, there was Joseph Priestly (not an Engineer) who made timelines of Yesterday and Today. On and on it goes…:-)

Images Source: Brinton, Willard Cope. Graphic Methods for Presenting Facts. 1917. Diagrams by Willard Cope Brinton & Others. Humantific Collection, New York.

Related:

Data Visualization Meets CoCreation

Humantific: SenseMaking for ChangeMaking

Humantific: The OTHER Design Thinking

Making Sense of Early SenseMakers

 

11
Jan

Data Visualization

This is what happens when display precedes data analysis!

Cartoon by Mark Anderson, www.andertoons.com