Although I agree with both concepts, and I recommend reading more than just the titles of those posts, I couldn’t help but wonder if what should be begging more of our attention is what’s goes into those data-explaining pictures, and whether we should be reflecting more on how data visualizations are used.
In Snow White, every morning the evil queen would ask:
“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?”
Although her magic mirror, which never lies, had previously always responded by reassuring her that she was the fairest in all the land, she is enraged one morning when it replies:
“My Queen, you are the fairest here so true,
But Snow White is a thousand times more beautiful than you.”
In Harry Potter, the Mirror of Erised is a magic mirror engraved with the inscription:
“erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohs i”
Which is a mirror reflection of:
“I show not your face but your heart’s desire”
Dumbledore cautions Harry that the mirror gives neither knowledge nor truth, and that people have wasted away before it, entranced by what they see.
The Magic Mirrors of Business
Business leaders have magic mirrors too, but most organizations call them dashboards.
These magic mirrors visualize the organization’s data, reflecting key performance indicators that business leaders check every morning (and sometimes more frequently) asking:
“Mirror, mirror on the data, whose business is performing the best of them all?”
However, these magic mirrors can lie or, like the Mirror of Erised, can show not your actual business performance, but only what your heart desires your business performance to be.
What Do You Visualize?
Do your dashboards help you visualize your data, reflecting what you need to see? Or are your dashboards magic mirrors reflecting back your own image of what you want your data to show you?