In order to find out what leaders and managers from across the business needed in order to become better leaders we asked them. The research involved interviews with a representative sample of 70 people from across all business areas and regions.
I believed (incorrectly), that the team would need to publish all of the results and findings in a single report. However, an agile approach just does enough work to move on to the next thing, with the sole focus being delivery of value to the customer not producing unnecessary reports.
When I understood this, I stopped what I was doing and the project never went beyond early design thinking.
The requirements all relate to the presentation of qualitative research findings:
- The information must be presented in a way that is objective, clear and punchy
- The information and data should be presented using Edward Tufte’s four principles (see Design principles below)
- Output formats
- Full report – PowerPoint
- Interim reports – PowerPoint
- Highlights – Images
- Visual identity – should us what was developed in 3.1 Agile leadership visual identity
Edward Tufte’s four principles are:
- Graphical excellence
- Visual integrity
- Maximising the data-ink ratio
- Aesthetic elegance
These are explained in detail on the Interaction Design Foundation website.
Because the research was broad it had a potentially wide audience including:
- Stakeholders we wanted to ‘Keep close’
- Stakeholders we wanted to ‘Keep engaged’
- Stakeholders we wanted to ‘Keep informed’
- Managers & leaders from across the business
- Central Programme
- Management Consultants
At the time I started my design, research analysis had reached a point where the raw information generated through interviews had been coded and was starting to be organised into a hierarchical structure
Following the design principles I wanted to create a set of design patterns linked to the data hierarchy making the job of designing and laying out the final content rules-based.
Draft design pattern proposal
Before spending too much time developing ideas I wanted to get the team’s input to check that the visual treatment was going in the right direction.
I’d made some large assumptions that I needed to validate. I created a draft pack of information to walk through.
The feedback I received when I presented it to the team was that I was prioritising the wrong work. What was most important (at that moment), was coding and analysing enough of the data to provide direction for the next stage of the project not spending effort on what a report could look like.
At this point I stopped design work and refocused on higher priorities.
- My experience of this work was a great example of ‘there’s no such thing as failure, just feedback’. It reinforced the importance of focusing on what’s important to meet the overall objective of the client and not to get carried away in design niceties.
- I have no doubt that at some point the ideas that I generated will be used. For example, the two panel illustrations are a quick and effective way to highlight research findings.
- Edward Tufte’s work on visually presenting data is something I’ll explore later.
Guidelines for good visual information representations (s.d.) At: https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/guidelines-for-good-visual-information-representations (Accessed 04/07/2021).