Where's Waldo

26 Jul 2006|Added Value

I have a small collection of children’s books that I’ve acquired over the years. A favorite is Where’s Waldo, one in a series of books based on an iconic character dressed in a red and white striped shirt, matching stocking cap, and black rimmed glasses. Readers are challenged to find Waldo in visually dense scenes filled with crowds of people and elaborate environments. There is so much information to look at that it’s easy to become distracted from the search for Waldo and get caught up in the myriad of detail.

This book came to mind recently as I was helping a client craft a presentation to be delivered to a group of business partners. The objective was to show evidence of a market opportunity in order to prioritize product development efforts.

Sifting through the data he planned to share produced an effect similar to looking at Waldo’s dense landscapes. The essential information was in there somewhere. It would have been a challenge to deliver so much information in an hour-long meeting and equally challenging for the audience to digest—and so easy to get lost in the detail.

I worked with the client to identify and extract the key themes across customer segments that would allow the business partners to see the core opportunity. This information was highlighted in a visual roadmap which served as tool for the business partners to use in planning discussions.

Researchers collect the information and then turn it over to business groups who use it for planning activities, ideation, and product development. What doesn’t always work so well in that knowledge transfer process is delivering it in a form that allows insights to be more accessible.

Making a game out of complexity is the basic premise of Where’s Waldo. In business it takes on the law of diminishing returns when decision makers must filter the detail on their own–and connect the dots so to speak, in order to take action on a business issue.

Waldo visuals_flat1.jpg

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