the 3 to FIVE rule

threeNo this is not the new working hours, it is the essence of framing things so that one can see it clearly.

What make YOU see the outline of a solution? Whether you are the builder, planner, designer or even the change agent that helps motivating for the new solution… what makes you see it?

The obvious is that any solution must be done for a reason and therefore you must be clear on what you are solving for.  In doing so, the biggest problem I observe is that solution crafter’s are ignoring the 3 to FIVE rule.

The rule simply imply that ANYTHING about the solution you write down or draw should never be less than 3 items or more than 5 items.

OK here is the test; look at your latest Powerpoint deck, your Visio outline or even your emails describing the outline of the problem and/or the solution.  If you cannot count the items you have a big problem… you are in no-where land.  If the points typically are more than 5 you are fuzzy and cannot see the problem/solution and therefore other people that you are communicating with will even see it less.  If however, you consistently describe the problem, solution and options respectively in 3-5 points you are seeing it.  If you consistently do it in 3 you are on the money.

Continue reading “the 3 to FIVE rule”


Data Model Visualisations – IBM IAA BDM

BDM_Data_ModelCurrent thinking dictates Data Models to be re-presented as ERD’s or UML structures when looking at structured data.  Herewith something different when one wants to find patterns within the Data.  Example is the IBM IAA BDM Model shown within a Cluster Circle Packing visualisation.

Labels is not shown to respect IBM copyright. Example was specifically chosen to show how it would work across a well matured data model with about 2000 entities and over 1200 attributes in support.

Continue reading “Data Model Visualisations – IBM IAA BDM”

PowerPoint Data Pump – data driven Powerpoint shapes

PointPump ITRolesSheer frustration to quickly generate visuals from data, ready for Executive consumption in Powerpoint forced me to develop the PowerPoint Data Pump.

Right now, right or wrong, the active/recorded Business conversation in Corporates are largely embedded in Powerpoint which make it quite difficult if one wants to convey data bound visuals that are created in specialist tools like Visio or other Architecture specific tools. Those of you that struggles with this will understand exported images from these tools is not the answer either.

Enter Powerpoint Data Pump.  You create your data in Excel and then use PowerPoint in a mail merge style whereby a new slide is generated for every row of data.  Each column of data corresponds to named shapes (all you have to do is name the shape in Powerpoint the same as the column name) and the slide would be generated with appropriate data.

It is ideal for Visual Diagrams(Maps); for example Capability or Component Maps previously largely drawn by hand in Powerpoint or inclusive in other speciality tools.  Therefore you can design “infographic” consisting of multiple shapes that is “linked” to the data and once generated will allow you to use these shapes either individually or leave them as normal slides.

Continue reading “PowerPoint Data Pump – data driven Powerpoint shapes”

Smart Business Case Calculator

bcA Business Case usually captures and motivates the reason why a given solution journey is embarked upon.  Typically this is a well structured document that tells the story and outlines what benefit is expected at the end.

You can view or download the Calculator here.

This Post is not about the document but more about a way for the Solution Architect to quickly build a simple financial case in support.   There is a fallacy that a business case is a thick tedious manuscript, written by professional consultants in an incomprehensible language.  Hope it helps!!!

Get a running start on a CIO Dashboard


Outside the BoxWith IT being under continued pressure, the ability to measure and align is becoming ever more important.

Here is one of my versions you may download and modify to get a running start.

It is based on Excel with simple way to add data for reporting.  Optionally you can also download and run the supporting cartridge for Telco’s and in so doing, modify the base Dashboard to become Telco/Mobile Network Operator specific.

Continue reading “Get a running start on a CIO Dashboard”

Becoming the Acord Conversation using a Tablet


SupermapperLike many other industries, those of us operating in the Financial Services and more specifically Insurance need to start Business conversations fast, to the point and with minimum fuss.  Please click here to explore unfolding Primer using Acord for Tablets and Mobile devices to help start the Business Conversation.  It was generated with freshInsight SuperMapper a service from Deon Pollard & Associates.  Notice that  materials may be copyrighted,subject to T & C’s and therefore you should be a Acord member.

These “fast and to-the-point” conversations by enlarge implies ready made industry collateral and what better way to make use of a specific Industry Reference framework to get going.  In Insurance-talk it make sense to based it on Acord, the Industry Reference Model and Standard.





Seeing What Others Don’t


The remarkable ways we gain insights and why some people understand things and others don’t was brilliantly positioned  by the book of Gary Klein with the same title.

This also help me in adding some specific features to  freshInsight  the go-to tool of choice for the professional Consultant.  This bring me to the point of connecting the dots and determining which dots to connect.

In freshInsight Visualisation is used to help:

  1. removing the non-dots
  2. clarifying the ambiguous dots
  3. grouping the dots that look different but are really the same and therefore arguably help you connect the dots for real Insight!




Business Bump Charts

Bump charts has been used widely in the field of sports, amongst others gholf, cycling and rally racing to display daily results and show each participants relative position.

However using them for business performance offers enormous clarity and insight, in fact any place where you want to show ranking over time.  Graphic shown are courtesy of an IBM study which illustrates CEO ratings of external factors, over time, to be considered to have the most impact.

Most cases I have found the easiest way to create BumpCharts is via MS Excel and then optionally re-draw them with a graphics editor in the event that I want to portray them in a professional report.

Continue reading “Business Bump Charts”

Sharpen HTML Chart Visualizations

Google Chart Wizard

Using the Google Chart wizard one can quickly generate sophisticated Chart and infographics for HTML publishing.  Again it is not for everyone, but if you need to generate static visualizations for the web then this might be a very handy option.  Once generated copy the generated html to the website of your choice.

The Chart Wizard does not cater for dynamic visualizations, though one can still use Google charts with dynamic datasets.

Google InfoGraphics:

Though not available using the Wizard with a little Web coding experience one can easily construct static or dynamic infographics, qr codes  or  charts.

Spotlight on Color Schemes

 Most non graphic designers do not have time to delve into the deep nitty gritty of colour complexities yet want harmonious color schemes when writting a business document.  This is even more true when putting together a Powerpoint deck.  Fortunately free help is available using Kuler from Adobe.

Picking appropriate colors is one of the most important aspects in bringing wow and clarity to you business communication.

Continue reading “Spotlight on Color Schemes”