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Some blobs are bigger than others

02/17/2017

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In a darkened room in an office formerly the home of a bankrupt hedge fund a gaggle of finance managers gaze at a large screen on a wall displaying an assortment of moving multi-coloured blobs, some of them bigger than others, framed by horizontal and vertical axes. A few people in the room seem to understand what the blobs represent and the significance of their size and colour and their paths across the screen. But others furrow their brows as if unsure of whether the “units” under discussion are tins of soup, high performance sports cars or people with the misfortune to fall ill enough to require hospital treatment.

But hey, who cares, it looks smart. Presentation is everything. There’s a portfolio matrix with its cash cows and stars. There’s a process control chart. There’s a box plot. We have the technology. We can steer this organisation through choppy financial waters. The presenter, who regards himself as something of an expert on “business intelligence”, explains how these graphs and charts provide the perfect platform to tell stories about the data they contain.

And then a new screen appears where the paths of each blob are plotted carefully, one blob superimposed on another blob to create something that resembles an overfed worm climbing a wall. Or something oddly phallic. “I’ve not seen anything like this before” utters one of the would-be story tellers as others suppress a snigger. I’m not sure any of us have, to be fair.

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From → NHS

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