Makeover Monday, 2018 #35

A couple of my colleagues are giving Makeover Monday a go to practice some recent Tableau Desktop training, so I’m back into it too! This week we were given a data set from Figure Eight about wearable tech products, with the challenge to makeover the charts in this article from 2014, about where we are wearing our wearable tech.

The charts are simple, clear bar charts. For me it could be made clearer that the charts don’t indicate what products sell well, and hence what tech is actually worn most, and where. Also we don’t get to see the inter-relationships; are lifestyle products worn on a different part of the body to health products or entertainment products? For my makeover I wanted to take a look at these angles whilst retaining the simplicity of the bar charts. I’ve minimised styling because one of the team is keen to see how to move away from Tableau defaults for fonts, grid lines, etc.

The makeover follows below. Or you can click through to the interactive version where the highlight picker at the bottom lets you explore the inter-relationships (e.g. try picking entertainment to see where those devices are worn and who produces them).


Makeover Monday, 2018 #22

Where is some of the worlds priciest residential property? For week 22 of #MakeoverMonday we look at a World Economic Forum chart trying to answer that question.

On first glance the chart is nice and clear, but is a tree map the right type of chart to use when we’re not looking at parts of a whole? A number of community members have suggested it is not, and for me that detail shouldn’t be left to the chart footnote just in case the chart is used in a standalone setting. The sort order of the areas isn’t super intuitive either, with the most expensive city in the top right.

I felt that areas worked well for the topic – square meters of real estate – but have overlaid them to allow the different cities to be more easily compared. This approach also removes the issue of not showing parts of a whole. I’ve tried for a blue-print like look and feel. Picking courier new to complement that. In hindsight that perhaps doesn’t work with a theme of wealth and costliness.

Tableau public version.

Pricey Property

Makeover Monday, 2018 #21

How accurate were the Guardian Sports writers’ predictions for the 2017-18 English Premier League? According to this visualisation, which was picked for week 21 of makeover Monday, the predictions were not that great. I decided to have a play with removing inaccurate predictions; after all once you get one wrong you’ll end up with at least one other prediction wrong too right? E.g. getting first and second the wrong way around. I was intrigued to see if the Guardian had more of the sequence correct than it seemed at first glance. Arguably they did have more right – 11 was the number I got to.

Tableau public version here.


“Yes, and”, Cirque du Soleil and innovative design

On a recent holiday we got to go to a Cirque du Soleil show. The show was “O” and you should seriously consider checking it out if you ever get the chance. Absolutely amazing! Aside from being thoroughly entertaining, for me the show reinforced some recent experiences around innovation and creative leadership that I’d picked up from companies like Empathy Design and IDEO.

I’m not talking about design frameworks or methods of research – although those will pay you back too! I’m talking about the power of two simple words. They’re easy words to say in your head, but not always as easy in practice. If you’re interested in hearing more, feel free to read on. Or pop over to one of the websites mentioned above if you want to learn from the experts!

Cirque du Soleil “O”

If you’ve ever seen a show like Cirque, then you’ll know the general approach: a storyline weaved through a show of live music and acrobatics. It encapsulates a feeling of “wow!”, is immersive and generally involves the audience to an extent. This one was no exception but did have one difference – it was above a pool of water. So instead of landing on a stage, trampoline or safety net, the performers could plunge into the water:

Cirque du Soleil O 1

It was easy to imagine a design thinking style process where the performers had a conversation that went something like this:

Performer 1: “We could leap into the air and spread our limbs out for great effect”

Creative director, doesn’t say “but we always do that” instead they say Yes, and could we build up some momentum on a giant swing, so that we can fly higher and longer than we’ve done before?”

Performer 2 contributes: Yes, and instead of having to land on a stage we could plunge into a pool of water so that we can hold our pose for longer!”

Few people would argue with the commercial success of Cirque du Soleil and that this success is based on an ability to immerse and delight their customers. I couldn’t help but think that the end result of delighted customers stemmed in part from “yes, and” style thinking.

Of course “what ifs” and “buts” have to be addressed too. So whilst we were seeing this:

Cirque du Soleil O 2

What was actually happening was like this:

Cirque du Soleil O 3

(this is really what was happening … they even show you the scuba divers at one point in the show)

Creative leadership and innovation

What I didn’t know when I was thinking the above on our way out of the theatre, was that Cirque du Soleil have indeed been used as a poster child for innovation, design thinking and creative leadership.

People that know me well, will know that I’m more of a “what if” kind of guy (some pretty strong monitor evaluator preferences in there for those familiar with Belbin!). But the lesson for me is clear, innovation comes from a “yes, and” approach.

Applying “yes, and” in principal

A “yes, and” approach works really well during ideation. When leading a group through idea generation (e.g. in an ideation workshop) you’re after quantity, and you want your participants to defer judgement on quality (“no idea is a bad idea … for now”). A positive approach to take is to encourage the group to build on each others ideas. Ask people to put away any tendency to say “but that won’t work” and instead try starting their thoughts and comments with “yes, and”. Doing this is a great way to facilitate building on ideas.

If you can get the group to the point where they’re eagerly awaiting each others ideas, pausing to consider and then saying “yes, and we could …” then you’re halfway there!

Makeover Monday, 2018 #13

I’m returning to #MakeoverMonday after a month or two off with family and travelling. After completing all 52 in 2017 I’m pretty relaxed about how many I participate in this year, and hope to pick up on some other community initiatives, like viz for social good. Anyway back to this weeks makeover…

In week #13 the challenge was to makeover the first chart in this infographic about chocolate bar preferences in the UK. I enjoyed the original infographic and found the bump chart interesting. It took me a little while to reconcile that the bump chart plotted preferences across age brackets not years. I like the way the lack of data for some brands has been handled, although that does add to the complexity of the chart. So for my makeover I’ve simplified it down to simple lists of rankings. I’ve coloured the items by manufacturer as I think this tells the story about Cadbury more effectively for the audience.

Available on Tableau Public here.


Makeover Monday, 2018 #2-3

Week 2: What attributes are seen as most preferable in a romantic partner:


Week 3: Distributions as a line chart similarly to one or two others, but within a tile map. Each tile shows the distribution relative to all other distributions. Shading highlights the higher proportions for a selected income bracket. I also experimented with a second chart per tile to act as a miniature x-axis and call out the selected income bracket to orientate the viewer, not so sure about this bit … I wanted to show the income bracket too but it was just too dense text-wise! There were a few tricks here – like using a dual axis with area chart to be able to show a different background colour for each tile. Feel free to download the workbook to take a look and let me know if there’s things that could be done more elegantly!

Available on Tableau Public here.




Makeover Monday, 2018 #1

A whole new year of chart makeovers to look forward to! And this year the data is available via too, with integration to a wider set of tools. We’re starting out with a look at per capita poultry consumption in the US since the 1960s based on data from the National Chicken Council; a nice clean line chart that tells the main story. The source data allows us to dive into a little more detail to expand upon the story. It was interesting to look at Turkey and seafood, and also to try to find equivalent data for plant-based proteins.

My version of the chart follows and is also available on Tableau Public here.


Makeover Monday, 2017 #52

A “Merry Christmas” makeover to end the year with*, looking at a Statista graph of Christmas tree sales in the US from 2004 to 2016. The original is a nice simple bar chart, which clearly shows the breakdown between sales of real and fake Christmas trees in America. It’s a little hard to see the actual proportions and that’s one thing I wanted to hit in my makeover.

A number of the community’s submissions took the angle that fake trees are re-usable, and so whilst less are sold than real trees, the actual number out there in people’s homes and business might be higher. We have a real tree that is still re-usable in our house. I bought it nearly ten years ago as a small potted fir. It lives in the garden most of the time and then comes in every other Christmas or so. Why not every Christmas? Well I absolutely love the tree, it’s convenience and the re-usability. But my partner occasionally wins the debate and we get a larger cut tree. I guess there is a place for, and joy to be shared from, all sorts of tree’s at Christmas … not so different from other aspects of life really.

Anyway below is my makeover. As ever it is available on Tableau Public too here.



* Post script: why did I asterisk ending the year with this viz? Well I set myself a goal to complete all 52 this year but am 1 short on 51. Darn it, so close! Hopefully I’ll squeeze one more makeover in and hit my goal. Well done to those that have done all 52 – a massive effort. And of course a huge thanks and shout out to the organisers – Andy and Eva. 2018 Makeover Monday looks to be even more exciting. If you’re considering joining, or maybe wavering, then my simple advice is to get amongst it! The community is really supportive and if you heed the advice and pointers that you’ll hear, then you’ll likely see some real growth and learn heaps. On top of that if you participate most weeks then you’ll build up a great portfolio of visualisations.

Happy new year everyone!

Makeover Monday, 2017 #51

Cruising towards the end of a year of weekly makeovers with a look at over 176 million daily maximum and minimum temperature readings from around the world, over three centuries. As noted by many others, this weeks original visualisation is a tough act to follow – why try to make it better? Well I didn’t! I spent all of my time digging around what was a fascinating data set. In the end my “makeover” is simply a look at how anomalies can just be down to the fact that locations for temperature readings / estimates are introduced over time. The seeming false start for Senegal being a good case perhaps! Equally when temperatures from Antarctica were introduced is it surprising that we see the minimum temperature for the year drop dramatically? What about the impact of elevation of weather stations – over time readings are being taken from more extreme locations and I didn’t even get into looking at that!

The interactive version is available here.


Makeover Monday, 2017 #50

This week we take a look at barrier free buildings in Singapore. The original visualisation is part of a site by the Building and Construction Authority in Singapore (BCA). Although the site requires Flash to be available and enabled in your browser, there is a great range of information available if you do have Flash. From the map of an area you can drill into information about individual buildings. We didn’t have quite the data to do that (not having the building ID or the depth of information about each building). Nevertheless is was interesting to attempt to makeover the map to: cover more areas and be a little easier on the eye. Most of the info is available via hover over, but I’ve also added an inset bar chart to show how the selected area compares to the “best” and “worst”.

The interactive version is available here.