The Quest for Better Decisions

Picking a subtitle for a book is never easy. Here's why I went this way.

The Visual Organization squareThe Visual Organization will be out in about two months, and a few people have asked me about its subtitle. I’ll be the first to admit that “Data Visualization, Big Data, and the Quest for Better Decisions” is a bit of a mouthful. To be fair, though, it’s still a bit shorter than “How a New Breed of Small Businesses Is Harnessing the Power of Emerging Technologies”, the subtitle for The New Small. (It took me a few weeks to memorize that one for interviews.)

When writing my books, I generally find the subtitle to be more elusive than title. This might seem a bit counterintuitive. After all, there are almost always fewer words in a book’s title, and the ability to add more words theoretically makes things easier, right?

Well, sort of. Publishers justifiably want subtitles to be SEO-friendly. All else being equal, a longer subtitle with more terms stands a better chance of being found–and being found isn’t easy these days. It’s a fair point and I can’t argue with that line of thinking. SEO aside, prospective customers (whether online or off) should be able to grasp the essence of the book by looking at its cover. If that means a relatively lengthy subtitle, then so be it.

“Set it and forget it” is dead.

So, why this subtitle?

In a nutshell, I argue in the book that we no longer live in an era characterized by the “set-it-and-forget-it” mentality. This isn’t 1998. What’s true today isn’t necessarily true tomorrow. Things just change too fast. Like any technology, dataviz tools should enable better business decisions. In order to do that today, professionals need to understand that there’s a great deal to be discovered–and that discovery resembles an ongoing quest more than 30-minute or two-year “project” or exercise. And this true in just about every business function: HR, sales, finance, marketing, IT, engineering, and the executive suite.

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