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Storytelling with Data: A Data Visualization Guide for Business Professionals by Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic

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foreword

“Power Corrupts. PowerPoint Corrupts Absolutely.”

Edward Tufte, Yale Professor Emeritus1

We’ve all been victims of bad slideware. Hit-and-run presentations that leave us staggering from a maelstrom of fonts, colors, bullets, and highlights. Infographics that fail to be informative and are only graphic in the same sense that violence can be graphic. Charts and tables in the press that mislead and confuse.

It’s too easy today to generate tables, charts, graphs. I can imagine some old-timer (maybe it’s me?) harrumphing over my shoulder that in his day they’d do illustrations by hand, which meant you had to think before committing pen to paper.

Having all the information in the world at our fingertips doesn’t make it easier to communicate: it makes it harder. The more information you’re dealing with, the more difficult it is to filter down to the most important bits.

Enter Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic.

I met Cole in late 2007. I’d been recruited by Google the year before to create the “People Operations” team, responsible for finding, keeping, and delighting the folks at Google. Shortly after joining I decided we needed a People Analytics team, with a mandate to make sure we innovated as much on the people side as we did on the product side. Cole became an early and critical member of that team, acting as a conduit between the Analytics team and other parts of Google.

Cole always had a knack for clarity.

She was given some of our messiest messages—such as what exactly makes ...

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