Better data visualization won’t convince me when to play ⚽️ again

A short story for you about football.

No, not that kind - the kind the rest of the world plays outside the US: ⚽️.

Me to my Scottish pal this weekend: "Michael, I'm feeling like I might be ready try resuming Cesar's soccer pickup again (5x5). You down?"

Michael: "not sure I'm up for that yet, but I am itching to play too :-/ "

Me: "I am a still concerned too, but, if I don't see major changes in the next week or two once the Covid numbers have settled from the influx of the students  coming back to Boston, I think I will go play a bit before the weather gets too cold."

(Meanwhile, I go look on the web for guidelines on pickup soccer - can't find anything, and I realize I don't even know what would sell me on "is it safe enough.")

Me to Michael: "You know, now that I think of it, I don't even know what my decision-making criteria is or what numbers I would need to believe to feel comfortable playing again!"  

You probably have had this conversation too. About back-to-school. And restaurants. And your haircut. And the dentist.

Here's the point:

The analytics work you for users of your analytics applications and decision support software will not be successful if you only focus on numbers and stats.

First, I have to sell myself on what my decision making criteria is before I will actually make decisions. And until I figure out what that is, I probably won't be playing soccer.

You need to do the same with your customers and users.

This is especially true if your analytics and decision intelligence is going to be expressed in a software user experience, where you're not there to give context through a narration-driven PowerPoint presentation.

Storytelling gets a lot harder when you're not there.

Focusing on the data and evidence alone isn't enough; because nobody really wants that. They just want useful decision support.

Designing for decision support starts by using empathy to understand what users really need in the last mile—not just looking at the data and thinking about data visualization strategies.

Better charts aren't going to convince me to kick a ball with my peers. 

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Photo by Jonathan Petersson on Unsplash.

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