Last week I came across a fascinating video on one of my favorite websites in the world, TED.com. It was entitled “The beauty of data visualization,” and was presented by infographic designer David McCandless. During his presentation, David talked about how to turn complex data sets, like worldwide military spending, media buzz, Facebook status updates and all sorts of other interesting information… into beautiful yet simple diagrams where the observer could quickly visualize the “pattern” that the data yielded once it was turned from numbers and words… into an infographic representation of the information. It does not matter whether you agree or disagree with the data that David presents, I was simply awestruck by his ability to take massive amounts of information and turn it into a extremely easy to understand picture that immediately made the pattern of the information obvious. As someone who has spent their entire career looking for the “patterns” in leadership, strategy, teamwork and business success… I was almost speechless as I realized the implications this sort of tool offered for the work I am doing.
Here is David’s presentation on the power of infographics and pattern recognition, it’s about 18 minutes long and VERY interesting and entertaining.
After watching this video I became incredibly excited about applying these techniques to the years and years of research I have gathered on the key “patterns” for business success, so I immediately started searching the web for a tool that I could use to visually represent all of the data I had collected. It was then that I remembered a neat little program called Wordle that takes text and turns it into “word clouds.” When I got to the site I quickly realized how powerful this tool would be when I loaded an extremely special document.
You see, in order to write my book Awesomely Simple I spent more than four months reading and rereading my highlighting from the top books I have ever read on strategy and business excellence – and then I boiled each book down to a set of bullet points that represented the fundamental “pattern” of key data in the book. When I finally finished I had taken more than 10,000 pages of reading and hundreds of pages of personal notes from client engagements with top companies around the world… and gotten all of that information down to a single page that I called my “Strategy Map.” This list of bullet points represented everything I had learned about the key strategies of highly successful organizations and served as my guide in writing Awesomely Simple.
So I took my Strategy Map and loaded it into Wordle. In a matter of seconds… years and years of research and study turned into the word cloud you see below.
I urge you to take some time to study this word cloud VERY carefully (NOTE: the larger the word… the more times it appeared in the data) as I believe that if you can see, understand and then apply the pattern it presents, you will have an amazingly powerful tool for taking your business to a much higher level of success. This is nearly two decades of work and tens of thousands of pages on business excellence – in ONE picture. Enjoy!
By the way, if you would like a PDF of this word cloud to study it more detail, simply send me an e-mail and I’ll be happy forward one to you right away. My e-mail address is: John@johnspence.com.
Lastly, I would like to ask you a huge favor. I really think that this word cloud would be extremely helpful to most people in business – so I’d like to ask you please forward a link to this blog on to anyone and everyone you think would find value in studying this word cloud. Here is a tiny URL link so you can easily tweet about this post or send this link on to your friends and colleagues: http://tiny.cc/ufqgy
Thank you so very much for helping me to get this post in front of as many business people as possible. I truly hope that this blog post has been of great value to you. Take good care – John Spence