»Me, myself and BI«

Bissantz ponders


Friday, April 27th, 2007

Stephen Jay Gould’s fight against cancer – and statistics

With the help of statistics we seek clarity, uniqueness, profound boundaries and, ultimately, decisiveness. Statistical measures, such as averages or medians, deliver values that are tempting to believe as true. However, the underlying numbers – and not the statistics themselves – are the true reality which often is surprisingly different to the one indicated by the statistical measures.

Friday, April 13th, 2007

Pseudo-precision

We tend to trust statistics that contain multiple digits. Eliminate pseudo-precision in your reporting.

Friday, March 23rd, 2007

Ivy League Rock and Roll – A day with Edward Tufte

Edward Tufte, the world’s most renowned visualization expert, holds legendary information design seminars up to 40 times a year. What an experience!

Monday, November 6th, 2006

Rediscovering slowness in today’s fast-paced information society

From Sten Nadolny’s famous book we can learn that speed does not lead to the goal if it comes along with superficialness – and that slowness is the basic principle of close attention and thoroughness. Graphics in the size of a word establish this thoroughness. They are the milestone that is going to change the way we deal with numbers and data.

Tuesday, July 18th, 2006

Numerical blindness?

When diagnosed with AIDS or breast cancer, most people feel as if they have been sentenced to death. Is this justified? Provided that he or she doesn’t belong to a high-risk group, a person only really carries the HIV virus 50 % of the time and actually has breast cancer in 10 % of the cases. The problem, however, is that most doctors tell a different story. That has to do with how information is presented. Gerd Gigerenzer offers insight to understand and interpret vital information correctly.

Tuesday, May 9th, 2006

Rules of Quotation

When faced with the task of saying something smart about statistics in general, we often find ourselves quoting great people. There’s a well known remark by Winston Churchill that is particularly popular. The editor-in-chief of a important business newspaper used it recently, just as many others have in the past. He had to write an introduction to a highly useful compendium packed with statistics related to international numbers that was being published by the same company. To emphasize the quality of the data gathered in the book, he referred to Churchill, trying to reassure him post-humously by saying that the data came from absolutely trustworthy sources and that he would certainly have appreciated the potentially surprising connections the book comes up with.

The problem is that this well-known saying isn’t Churchill’s at all, but was attributed to him by Joseph Goebbels.

Anyone still wanting to use dead British statesmen to bolster their arguments are better off finding someone else. Benjamin Disraeli, for example, coined the equally oft-quoted “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.” Or at least, Mark Twain claims Disraeli said it. Plenty of others attribute it to Twain himself.

Essays

Death to business charts!
Why business charts must die

Graphic tables
Lay back and control

Industrial reporting
Production-like efficiency for management reporting

Can we drive companies
like we do cars?

Against dashboards, speedometers and traffic lights in Controlling

Business Intelligence 2.0
modest, serious, sincere

Rediscovering slowness
Sparklines make us John Franklins in management information.

Good reporting is boring
Looking for excitement?
Try a night on the town instead.

Are sports fans smarter
than managers?

Management reports need to become more dense and dashboards more rare

The myth of data mining
Why men don't buy beer and diapers at the same time.

Numerical blindness?
I wouldn't see a doctor, if I were you.