I’ve seen it for years. Charts that show a great story. Data so woven and worked it makes you think that some activity must be happening. Hell, I did this for a while as a sales analyst. I can make any amount of data tell any story, as long as you give me the plot before I start pulling. Our entire industry is starting to feel like a Meg Whitman campaign spot (for those of you not in California, insert Ross Perot).
In the past few conferences and meetings I’ve seen, Pie Charts, Heat Maps, Clouds, Spiral Graphs, Histograms…Graphs with pictures, graphs with animation, graphs that always lead to this statement when presenting “Sorry for the eyechart, but as you can see from my graph…”
I’m done. I’ve never seen a case study that wasn’t good. I’ve never seen a chart that didn’t support the speakers choice. So from now on. No more data. I’ve had enough. Tell me the insight, tell me what we are going to do, and then do that. No amount of proof from a brand that has a totally different target demographic, brand personality, history and price point will convince me that you can sell my product.
From now on, I don’t want fancy data until after the execution, and then and only then can you show me how the data says we should have done better. Data should never be enough, and data should never show success. Data is a marker in time and never takes into account those tiny little details that are being made every second, on every tactic, by very human people. Data doesn’t remember that the day you launched your press release some guy did an autotune song about a mugging. Data doesn’t remember that instead of changing the packaging to say “New and Improved” you had to roll with “New Improved” because another department had already printed the POP brochures. Data can’t possibly know all of this, because data was not there. And worse, data is being manhandled by people who weren’t a part of the process. By people who think they can judge and critique human emotion by looking at raw figures and numbers.
There is magic in what we do. Humans are not and never will behave they way we predict. They are complex emotional creatures that will surprise and confuse you for the rest of your days. By trying to boil emotional responses during a constant flow of time, you are doomed to just keep printing more and more charts.