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The Visual Organization: UC Berkeley Interview

I talk to the good folks at the school about my rationale for the new book.
Mar | 19 | 2014


Mar | 19 | 2014

The UC Berkeley School of Information (I School) offers a professional Master of Information and Data Science (MIDS) delivered online. I recently gave an interview about the new book. Here’s an excerpt:

Q: Why did you write The Visual Organization?
PS: Jim Barksdale, former CEO of Netscape, once famously said, “If we have data, let’s look at data. If all we have are opinions, let’s go with mine.” I love that quote, I thought a great deal about it while writing the book.

Barksdale is probably happy right now. Today more than ever, professionals are being asked to argue their cases and make their decisions based on data. A new, data-oriented mindset is permeating the business world. Blame or credit Google or Nate Silver. For instance, journalists, dry cleaners, and football teams today are representing data in interesting ways, a subject I’ve discussed frequently on my blog and with colleagues and clients.

Next, I believe that the book fills a vacuum. I reviewed many of the current books on data visualization. While enormously helpful, they tend to be how-to books. As such, they emphasize theory over practice. The title of my book is no accident. I am unaware of an existing text that examines how actual organizations, departments, and people have used contemporary dataviz tools to move the needle. This is particularly true with dataviz. As I discovered researching The Visual Organization, there aren’t too many original, insightful, and vendor-neutral case studies on the topic.
This is a big problem. Far too many business books lack case studies—and suffer as a result. When done right, case studies can be enormously helpful, as they provide real-world business context and valuable lessons. The Visual Organization takes a “show me, don’t tell me” approach.

Finally, and this is a purely selfish reason, I enjoy the writing process. At the end of months and months of work, it feels pretty good to hold your book in your hand.

Read the whole thing here.

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