Tag Archives: business graphics

Redraw a business model clearly

New start-ups often have to introduce their services to investors and potential users who have never seen anything similar. If a model is difficult to understand and clouds key benefits, then audiences will quickly lose interest.

The following model demonstrates how a financial services company enables email users to make secure transactions from within their bank’s email messages.

The original model was difficult to follow.

The updated presentation depicts a bank customer, a clear sequence of events, and the product’s benefit. In this example, the benefit is an ability to transact with your bank directly in the email rather than having to log onto the bank site. The user’s computer monitor turns into a bank front at the story’s end.

Demonstrate how users benefit from the solution

Here is the link to the entire PPT sequence:

Support employee understanding by making process changes visible

The interesting thing about process changes is that they don’t stick if they’re ignored. What’s more, a business won’t realize any value for their technical and strategic investments if they haven’t factored in the talent required for success.

If you want to get employees to rally behind a change the first step is to make sure they understand why change is needed. Adults are skeptical learners and quick to dismiss anything that isn’t seen to have a big “what’s in it for me?” payoff.

As an example, take a look at the following MS Visio flowchart that demonstrates how a project is to be opened under a new process. Part of the visual challenge is that the viewer must decode the colors, read the sideways swim lane titles, and follow the small arrows in and out of the action.¬† The other challenge is that it’s pretty boring, right?

Original process depiction

A revised version was requested to better identify the participants and what they’re expected to do under the new approach. This sketch suggests one path with participants coming and going as required. All copy is to be right-reading and immediately associated with the action step required.

A suggested direction for simplifying who does what

We developed a final version that resided on their intranet and had links associated at the right time with the few forms that were needed. This enabled employees to continue doing their jobs with a minimal disruption from the process changes that accompanied new technology.

New process render

Support a superb process with good case studies

After investing time and money in developing a process for delivering services to clients, it pays to continue supporting success through marketing case stories. A good demonstration of how the process delivered results helps prospects understand their opportunities.

Hoffman Construction follows a seven-phase build process in the their work with clients. The major steps as seen in their PPT overview are below. A presenter can click on any of the items at the top to spend more time on the details involved in that phase.

This is the build process navigation that appears at the top of PPT slides

The results of following the process can be seen in the success of various building projects like The Indigo condominiums in Portland, Oregon. A bi-fold case story was developed to demonstrate how the Hoffman approach benefitted the client. While the front and back describe the specific property, the inner spread focuses on the high-efficiency features that help a building save water. The inner spread can be separately used in presentations to new clients when water conservation is of interest.

Front page describes challenges faced

Setting up the challenges on the front places a favorable emphasis on the consultative process taken to a successful construction project. Hoffman’s expertise is showcased in the center spread, and the excellent results achieved for the building’s owner conclude this case story.

By focusing on the unique skills and experience brought to the project, there is less of an opportunity for buyers to overlook skill in the competitive bidding process for new construction.


The inner spread describes water-saving features in a high-performance building


Results achieved

Build consensus for process change

Companies invest a lot in their technology. Often overlooked is the more important role  individual employees have in embracing (or rejecting) the process change that often accompanies new technology investments.

For Hoffman Construction, a visual approach enabled leadership to convey the crucial benefits that would follow a series of technology investments. This led to greater employee understanding and acceptance of change.

Some of the original presentation slides focused on benefits as items around the representative investment in SharePoint, mobile technologies, ProLog, and TEMs. While accurate, this image lacked the ability to inspire audiences to change. The challenges and benefits are not readily apparent.


The presentation is recast as before and after scenes on building floors, where technology components enable positive change.

Record keeping improvements through better technology


Technology investments improve performance

New research on the efficiency of visual communications

Research from Dartmouth and Georgia State suggests graphs are more likely to change stubborn minds than text alone. The research looked into why, when the facts prove reality, people will still reject the truth when it differs from their tightly held beliefs. Can graphs help change their minds? Yes!

The editor at Fast Company goes on to suggest that if you are willing to lie and represent a falsehood visually people will believe that as well. True, but not the intent of the originally researchers. Below is one of their experimental charts and the results of sharing it with a given audience.

Is the trend going up or not?

Graphs are more likely than text to change the minds of people with strong beliefs.


Fast Company: Infographics can save morons from themselves.

Here’s the research conclusion below, and the original paper.

This paper makes two principal contributions to research on motivated reasoning and political misperceptions. First, we show that affirming self-worth can reduce misperceptions among respondents who are most likely to resist acknowledging uncomfortable facts about an issue. Second, we show that it is possible to provide subjects with graphical information that improves the accuracy of their factual beliefs. These results help us understand why individuals resist discordant claims and the means by which they do so.

These results have differing normative implications. On the one hand, they highlight the exciting possibility that graphical corrections can reduce misperceptions more effectively than text. However, the results underscore the psychological factors that make misperceptions so difficult to reduce. Among motivated subgroups, receiving the affirmation treatment (but not any corrective information) leads to better performance on factual questions across three studies. This result suggests that many of these respondents know the correct answers but were unwilling or unable to acknowledge that fact if they were not affirmed. In other words, self-affirmation may be important not because it makes people more open to new information, but because it allows them to accept dissonant information they already possess but would otherwise reject. These effects were largest relative to the effect of the graph treatment in our Iraq experiment

(Study 1) but were also significant in our studies of perceptions about job growth under President Obama (Study 2) and global temperature change (Study 3).