0253A: Non-Designer Design Thinking

Pareto Chart Example
Dense2013 [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]
At work, I'm trying to create a training module based on storytelling with data by Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic. It's a great book that follows an already successful blog of the same name all about leveraging charts more effectively to deliver a message. It's a great book and a very interesting subject, especially for someone like me who has had to charge many different data sets over the years with varying results.

Creating the deck is taking a lot of work since the very nature of the subject has me overthinking how to present the material in a manner that is as effective as many of the charts featured in the book. It takes a rather radical mindset to really think about data visualizations in this manner and get away from a lot of the more "default" charts that office tools like MS Office 365 and Google sheets have conditioned us to.

One of the aspects of the material that makes me the most uncomfortable is the notion that one must "think like a designer" in developing charts in order to better convey a message. And my aesthetic tastes have never been all that strong so I do find myself questioning my design choices a lot, even just today in the process of putting my training deck together. It's quite the challenging exercise that is providing the opportunity to stretch my mental muscles a bit as I really think about the presentation more.

Admittedly I'm a lot more comfortable creating reports templates and related worksheets more than handling the aesthetic side of decks. I can totally puzzle through how to automate formulas to make a spreadsheet work for a greater number of people but still get stymied by figuring out what to keep or what to add to a slide at times.

It has been a number of years since I last really sat down to put together a training deck and perhaps just as long since I had last conducted proper training since my BPO days. I know it's quite the tiring profession and I don't exactly miss having a full room of 20-30 participants to train at a time for weeks on end, but there is something about the profession that does give me a whiff of poignant nostalgia.

I just hope I get the job done. I know I'll need to iterate this a few times once I get it all down and there are going to be a lot of revisions once I actually deliver the material to members of the team. I tried looking back at some of the decks I had made all those years ago and even I know that I had made some terrible design choices back then. But hopefully, this current effort will help me be more part of the solution rather than the continued cause for the proliferation of bad data visualizations and charts continuing to circulate around companies all over the world.