Infographics – some examples of REALLY good ones (maybe)

If you have read my earlier post on Infographics, you’ll recall that I bemoaned the fact that some of the so called infographics coming out these days are just not making the grade.

This evening, my good reader, I came across a blog post that showed seventeen examples of “excellent” infographics. Initially I was excited by what I saw, but then, on closer examination, I actually discovered that while some of the infographics were, indeed, visually exciting and really “painted a picture”, some of them were just statistics with a coloured graph.

Infographic #1, #2, #3, #4, and #5 were prime examples of what I have been saying. They give you information in a great way and add value, rather than making you think “D’uh – you could have just given me the raw statistics, or information.”

Infographic #6 and #7: “D’uh – you could have just given me the raw statistics.”

Infographic #8, #9 and #10: Are great representations of the data.They made me really study them to try and get more information out of them.

Infographic #11 and #12 were poor. These were just numbers. That’s all. I wasn’t stimulated to think about what I was looking at. (In short – they were boring).

Infographic #13, #14, #15 and #16. I like these ones. The information present, again, caused me to stop, while my neurons, and synapses, sprang into life.

Infographic #17. At the risk of repeating myself “D’uh – you could have just given me the raw statistics.”

Have a look at the post (click here), and let me know, in the comments, if you agree with what I have said.

A Blog Post title…5 ways to write a STUPENDOUSLY good one

Hi there reader. Welcome (back).

In this post I want to talk about the title of a blog post.

I’ve been reading a lot of stuff on the Internet that states (ad nauseum) that the blog post title has to be catchy, compelling & with a “sense of urgency“. Otherwise you might as well not write a post at all. They also state that having numbers in the title is a winner. (For example, I bet the “5 ways..” in the title of this blog was a like magnet…and, I have to apologise, I used it just for that reason.)

(Note – I updated the title to include the word “STUPENDOUSLY” as an example a ludicrous use of hyperbole in a blog post title.)

I find a lot of these techniques to be a bit “dishonest”. Oh sure, a lot of the blogs posts that have titles that have a number in them (“6 incredible ways to increase your readership”, or “15 secrets that we will never tell you”) do tend to deliver, but I hate the fact that this technique has to be used.

Personally, I don’t write my blog posts to be read. I know, that sounds weird. Certainly, if I get people actually taking the time to read it, then that is fantastic, but it is not the reason I write.

I write to get my own thoughts about technology and related subjects “on paper”. I helps me know what I know.

If you look at a thesis written for a PhD, do they ever have a number in them that is intended to draw in the reader? (For example, should a thesis titled Constraining Global Biogenic Emissions and Exploring Source Contributions to Tropospheric Ozone: Modeling Applications” be better off as “12 Ways to Show how CO2 contributes to Ozone“? Sure, it’s a simple title that tells you, more or less, what’s it’s about. You do get the feeling of “Wow – I’m going to read that to find out what these  12 ways are”, but it sort of lowers the expectation of the thesis.

Now, I’m not saying that blog posts should have such lengthy titles, (for an example of a model for creating such titles, see the comic at the end of this post), but I just want to point out that some blog posts are written to merely “capture” something – a person’s opinion, or a their understanding of something, or to provide knowledge on something. They don’t necessarily have to be read by fifty thousand people within 6 hours of being published. Instead they are available for future discovery (for example, a person may do a search using one of their favourite search engines), or are shared by a small (global) group of people with an interest in that particular subject (a “community of interest”).

Having said that, a good title does help explain what the post is about, (and I intend to go back over my previous posts to make them a little bit more helpful.)

And here’s that comic I mentioned…

Click on the image to see more great “PhD” comics 

Do you really “get” Innovation?

The good people at Innovation Excellence (that would be Braden Kelly, and Rowan Gibson) have published a post, written by Holly G Green, in which you have the chance to test your “Innovation IQ“.

Initially I thought that this would be a whimsical piece that would equate to one of those “self tests” in a Cleo magazine that we all like to take. (Or so I’ve heard…)

However, the article was actually quite a good one, and I learnt some interesting things about Innovation.

With permission, I republish the article below. However, you can save time and go directly to the “Innovation IQ” test by clicking here. Also – take a look around at some of the other great articles on the site.

Test Your Innovation IQ
Posted on December 7, 2011 by Holly G Green

Everyone knows that innovation means coming up with the next great idea in your industry, right? Actually, there’s a lot more to it than that. Test your ability to separate innovation fact from fiction by answering the following questions true or false:

  1.  Innovation is the act of coming up with new and creative ideas.
  2. Innovation is a random process.
  3. Innovation is the exclusive realm of a few naturally talented people.
  4. The biggest obstacle to innovation is a lack of organizational resources and know-how.
  5. The most important type of innovation involves bringing new products and services to market.
  6. Teaching employees to think creatively will guarantee innovation.
  7. The most powerful way to trigger your brain is to simply ask it a question.
  8. Most companies pursue incremental rather than disruptive innovation.
  9. Most companies are not structured to innovate.
  10. Listening to your customers is a great way to innovate.

Answers:

1. False. In business, innovation is the act of applying knowledge, new or old, to the creation of new processes, products, and services that have value for at least one of your stakeholder groups. The key word here is applying. Generating creative ideas is certainly part of the process. But in order to produce true innovation, you have to actually do something different that has value.

2. False. Innovation is a discipline that can (and should) be planned, measured, and managed. If left to chance, it won’t happen.

3. False. Everyone has the power to innovate by letting their brain wander, explore, connect, and see the world differently. The problem is that we’re all running so fast that we fail to make time for the activities that allow our brains to see patterns and make connections. Such as pausing and wondering….what if?

4. False. In most organizations, the biggest obstacle to innovation is what people already know to be true about their customers, markets, and business. Whenever you’re absolutely, positively sure you’re right, any chance at meaningful innovation goes out the window.

5. False. It’s certainly important to bring new products and services to market. But the most important form of innovation, and the #1 challenge for today’s business leaders may really be reinventing the way we manage ourselves and our companies.

6. False. New ideas are a dime a dozen. The hard part is turning those ideas into new products and services that customers value and are willing to pay for — a process that requires knowledge about what your customers want and need, coupled with implementation.

7. True. Ask a question and the brain responds instinctually to get closure. The key with innovation is to ask questions that open people to possibilities, new ways of looking at the same data, and new interpretations of the same old thing.

8. True. Most companies focus on using internally generated ideas to produce slightly better products (incremental innovation). Then they strive to get those slightly better products to market as quickly and as cost-effectively as possible. This approach is quicker and cheaper than disruptive innovation. But it rarely generates the results that lead to sustainable market leadership.

9. True. Most organizations are physically set up with accounting in one area, marketing in another, and management off by itself. Employees rarely interact with other departments unless they need something to get their jobs done. And leaders and departments often withhold information, believing that it puts them in a position of power. Innovation requires teamwork, communication and collaboration, not isolated silos.

10. Trick question! The answer is “it depends.” Research shows that customers can be a good source of ideas for improving existing products and services — if you’re looking to achieve incremental innovation. However, by itself, customer research is not sufficient for generating disruptive innovation because it only uncovers expressed, or known, customer needs. Disruptive innovation solves problems that customers didn’t even know they had or were unable to clearly articulate to themselves or their vendors. It redefines the market at a very fundamental level or, in many cases, creates a new market.

If you got 8 or more correct answers, give yourself a pat on the back. If you scored between 4 and 7, I recommend some more research and work on these critical leadership skills. If you scored less than 4, wake up and smell the burnt coffee! Get some help.

If you’re not constantly looking to improve your products, services, systems, and managerial processes, you will fall behind. And once you fall behind, it can be very difficult and often impossible to catch up!

More things I have learnt from the world of secret agents.

In my last “things that I have learnt from spies” post I talked about the British TV series “Spooks” and the US TV series “NCIS”, and how we can learn something from them. At that time, it was to do with “teams“. In this post it’s to do with “intuitiveness“.

So there I was – I had just put Disc 1 of the first season of “Spooks” in the DVD player, and some sort of “intro film” started playing with a shady character breaking into (I later discovered) the MI5 headquaters.

The film was quite interesting and really sets the scene for the program. After breaking in, the character goes to a desk, and starts typing on a keyboard to override security systems, as well as checking for confidential information. Then he waits, and types in more codes.

After watching this for about 10 minutes, I thought that there was something wrong. The character just kept repeating the same actions…type secret codes….look for stuff…watch the monitor…type more secret codes, etc. All with some really cool “spy thriller” background music.

Turns out that I was at the “Main Menu” screen…By pressing the “Up” and “Down” arrows on the remote control I was actually moving between items on the desk on the screen that represented different menu options. Once I worked this out, I was able to actually start the program.

The “”intro” screen was actually pretty cool, and really fitted with the whole “secret agent” theme. However, it just wasn’t “intuitive”.

In the DVDs for the next series they had added menu descriptions.

How Apt… The desire to Write

I just finished writing my last post, clicked on Published, and waited while WordPress put a stamp on it and sent it off to the world.

Then, WordPress displayed an encouraging message on the side of the screen saying that “This was my 179th post!”, as well as showing an “inspiring quote” underneath it…

The desire to write grows with writing.
— Desiderius Erasmus

Initially I gave it a passing glance, but then I stopped and re-read it…

The desire to write grows with writing.
— Desiderius Erasmus

This was amazing. I’ve become more and more aware that when I write, I end up wanting to write more. It’s as if there are more than the standard 4 neurons firing in my brain (of course neurons don’t “fire”, then tend to “release chemicals and electrical charges”, but there is no actual “fire”). 

Whatever’s happening I find myself looking at, and reading things differently. I start to really “analyze and process” what I’m taking in, in an active way, rather than just passively letting the blah, blah, blah travel from my eyes to that grey mass in my head where it competes with more important details such as what is for dinner tonight, “did I turn off the stove this morning”, and an assorted other thoughts that I am, unfortunately, not allowed to include in this blog post.

And that was what one of my main goals was when I started writing this blog. It was also akin to something that Andrew Chapman confessed to me to me when I was just a bright-eyed, innocent, blogger (with only a few posts under my belt). Andrew said “it helps me understand what I’m thinking” (or something similar. Andrew, my apologies if this is too far off the truth).

So – the above quote, from Mr Erasmus is pretty accurate. “Writing really does beget writing” (to paraphrase).
No wonder they named a university after him! (Despite the fact that he has an extremely pointed nose and looks like the kind of person you wouldn’t invite to your party).

It also goes to show that some things have not changed over the last 600 years.

Related Links

Excellent point…Sucky PowerPoint presentations

Here’s an excellent presentation by Jesse Desjardins.  He makes some really great suggestions. So much so that I wanted to capture it on my blog. I just hope that more people actually “get” what makes a good PowerPoint presentation.

At the same time I realise that many people need to comply to some “corporate” standard. And, sometimes a PowerPoint presentation is created to be read, or viewed, at a later stage when the presenter is present. I’m not quite sure how to fit those types into the concepts that Jesse (and many others) are promoting.

Watch Jesse’s presentation, and have a think about how a “corporate” (or a “stand-alone”) presentation can be created using these ideas…

 

 

A couple of my other posts that discuss presentations:

CSC has had to change their plans…

In my earlier post about the FirstDoc User Group conference that was held in Vienna earlier this year, I wrote about CSC’s User Interface strategy.

To recap – CSC produce technology that provides a compliance layer for content management systems. Although available for SharePoint systems (under the name “FirstPoint), the predominant application is “FirstDoc” which is built to work with, and integrate into, EMC’s Documentum.

The native FirstDoc client application is interwoven into Documentum’s client application and, as a result, CSC need to ensure that they shadow any architecture decisions EMC makes.

Over the last few years EMC have been making it clear that their way forward (with regards to their client applications) was to be with a technology called xCP. This would allow developers to create applications through configuring and then assembling components. The core idea is that “complex solutions are composed from interaction of Documentum objects with business processes”. Initially it was made clear that this technology was for case-based applications, but, the later versions were being promoted as the “interface solution”. (You can download EMC’s whitepaper on xCP here).

At the same time, EMC have announced that they had made plans to retire their current client application “WebTop”, and the idea was to replace it with xCP technology. CSC had been invited to be involved with version 2.1 of xCP to ensure that FirstDoc functionality could be tightly integrated with it.

At this year’s Momentum, however, EMC announced that they had licenced D2 technology from a French company called C6. (You can read the announcement here.) C6 have been EMC partners for a long time, and I recall seeing them at many previous Momentum conferences, where they have certainly caught people’s attention.

C6′s products work on the basis of “configuration“, and will be technology for “content-centric” applications.

C6 have also released x3, which is a “widget-based, agnostic browser, client interface that enables to extend the use of D2 Client to various browsers such as: Firefox, Safari, Chrome, Opera.”.

 Obviously this will offer incredible advantages. Especially in this mobile-age, and especially for industries (such as Pharma), that, because of strict compliance requirements (and the overarching mindset that that brings with it), have not been as “agile” as they could.

CSC have announced that they are working together with EMC to ensure that the tight integration between CSC’s FirstDoc client interface, and D2, will be maintained.

I am watching this space with interest…

Infographics – have they gone too far?

We’ve probably all see an infographic that displays “interesting” (or not) statistics in a visual way. (For a selection of infographics, check out dataviz, and visual complexity).

An infographic turns numbers into something visually exciting and meaningful.

Recently I came across an article on the VentureBeat website, by Chikodi Chima, which states that infographics have “jumped the shark“.

In it, Chikodi refers to Edward Tuft, (author of The Visual Display of Quantitative Information.), who said that successful graphics should do the following:

  • Show the data.
  • Induce the viewer to think about the substance rather than about methodology, graphic design, the technology of graphic production, or something else.
  • Present many numbers in a small space.
  • Make large data sets coherent.
  • Encourage the eye to compare different pieces of data.
  • Reveal the data at several levels of detail, from a broad overview to the fine structure.
  • Serve a reasonably clear purpose: description, exploration, tabulation or decoration.
  • Be closely integrated with the statistical and verbal descriptions of a data set.

It seems that many infographics don’t accomplish these, and are being made just for the sake of making them.

Here’s that link to that article…How infographics jumped the shark.

Give it a read, and let me know if you agree.

Big Pharma and the Prisoner’s Dilemma

Today I downloaded and read a McKinsey Quarterly report entitled “A wake-up call for Big Pharma” (see link at end of this post).

It was a fascinating, insightful report.

It pointed out several changes that are taking place that are going to force a pharmaceutical industry that has been luxuriously wallowing in easily made profits, and relying on mergers and acquisitions to promote growth, into having to seriously considering radical changes that, if not self-imposed, would be forced, through the actions of smaller, more flexible companies that are hungry.

The authors of the report (Vivian Hunt, Nigel Manson and Paul Morgan) used the “Prisoner’s Dilemma”, from Gaming Theory, to describe the current situation with Big Pharma. That is – if no-one changes, all the Big Pharma companies continue to enjoy the same “wealth”, where if one of them was to make a radical move to adapt itself to a certain future, it would risk, for itself, a potential loss of market share to the others (albeit a temporary one). At the same time…if none of them make a change, the inevitable will be a future where their hands will be forced.

The conclusion of this is that, regardless, there is a fundamental shift on it’s way and that Big Pharma Executives need to be prepared to make changes to their strategies, explicit, rather than reactive.

Related Links:

Total Regulatory Solution – a “complete” offering from CSC – Webinar 1

The other day I received an invitation from CSC to attend a series of three webinars on their “Total Regulatory Solution” offering.

The “Total Regulatory Solution” consists of three “components”:

  • Software
  • As a service offering
  • Business Process Outsourcing.

Having described CSC’s plans for this earlier (In Part 1, and Part 2 of the FirstDoc User Group posts), I was curious to see what CSC would cover.

Webinar 1

The first webinar was entitled “Flicking the Switch: Integration Drives Greater Regulatory Efficiency” and was presented by Jennifer Webstrom. 

Here are some key points from the webinar:

  • CSC’s was primarily driven by technology (that is – what is required to make sure that their products would run on the latest, and upcoming, technology platforms).
    Approximately 18 months ago they decided to change to focus more on how they can solve business problems that their customers were having.
  • They want to be the go-to company for regulatory submissions.
    Or, to quote their mission statement, they want to…

Provide end to end business solutions for processes involving the creation, review, approval, consumption & exchange of regulated and mission critical documents and content within a Life Sciences organization

  • With the recent acquisition of ISI, CSC offer tools that allow for end-to-end regulatory information management process. These include:
    • Tracker  
    • Assembly Planner
    • FirstDoc or FirstPoint
    • eCDTXPress
    • Publisher
    • Viewer
  • These applications are, currently, disparate applications, but CSC are working to integrate these tools so that they share a common data model, have the same interface, and (ultimately) will be “aware” of the other tools, in the sense that operations in one tool trigger certain “pre-emptive” actions in the other tools.
  • The integration roadmap includes the following:
    • ensure that Publisher, eCDTXpress, FirstDoc, and Viewer work together
    • release of Tracker – integrated with Viewer
    • release of Assembly Planner – integrated with Tracker

Strategy Analysis

This had to happen. Providing an application, or a collection applications, that allow users to perform specific tasks is one thing, but to have a truly integrated suite of tools that can work together, is another. Users do not want to have to “think” about what they are doing. They just want to be able to complete a task, in the most efficient way they can, without having to consider the different interfaces that they need to work with, or the different processes that they have to follow for each application they use.

By changing their focus from one of technology to one that is more on the business challenges that pharmaceuticals companies face, means that CSC can streamline the whole regulatory submission process so that there is as little “pain” as possible.

And, naturally, if they can achieve this, they do help to position themselves in the market as the “one-stop shop” that they want to be.

The other webinars

As mentioned above, there are three webinars in which CSC are describing their new “Total Regulatory Solution”. The other webinars are:

  • Data in the Sky: Finding Flexible Solutions in the Cloud
  • Clearing the Path to Innovation: Exploring Total Regulatory Outsourcing

I plan to write posts on these as well.

Reference sites