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Start with simple data visualizations

W.L. Gore Enterprise Analytics Champion Chris Chen shows the power of a simple graph in an excerpt from a recent webinar on data visualization, which you can now watch in its entirety on demand.

Chris Chen, W.L. Gore, taught his son well. Here is a four-year-old's data visualization of the success and failure of toy cars crossing a bridge.Chris Chen, W.L. Gore, taught his son well. Here is a four-year-old's data visualization of the success and failure of toy cars crossing a bridge.“My 4-year-old son, at the time, came to me and asked me what I do at work. At this point, I was a statistician, so I was telling him how I help engineers and scientists experiment, collect data. And so I went to work the next day and when I came home, my son handed me a piece of paper and he said, ‘Look, Dad! I did an experiment, and I recorded my information.’

"This is what he handed me. And I took a look at it and said, ‘What was your experiment?’ And he said ‘Well, I created a little bridge out of wooden blocks, and I put a toy car on one end, and I gave it a push, and I recorded which cars made it across the bridge and which cars fell off the bridge.’ And after a few minutes of looking at the graph, I realized exactly what he was showing me in this data visualization.

"So I put the graph up in front of my engineers and scientists and tell them this story. And I usually ask them which cars made it across and which fell off the bridge. And they can usually pick up on the straight lines are the cars that made it across the bridge and the curved lines are the ones that fell off.

"If my 4-year-old son can create a graph and visualize his data in such way you can understand it, then you ought to be able to as well.”

You can watch Chris Chen in this panel discussion on data visualization. Here's a preview:

 

 

2 Comments
Level VI

Great insights. A former consultant I worked with many years ago had a saying, "If it does not add, it subtracts." And he encouraged us to keep this thought front of mind as we create our data visualization output. Too many times I think (and I've fallen into this trap far too many times than I'd like to admit) we try to make our charts and graphs more about a demonstration of our PowerPoint/Excel/JMP Graph Builder skills and not about the core message. "If it does not add, it subtracts."

Staff

Nice point, @P_Bartell - a basic tenet for all forms of communication!