The Power of Visualization: Images that speak

The Power of Visualization

The human brain is known to comprehend and retain images much better than words. Also our brains decipher images much faster than language.

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And we know this – we just need to look at the emoticons, mascots, brand images that we are bombarded with daily to know that we know this :).

We use this knowledge in the corporate world too – we use charts, graphs, flow charts, diagrams, symbols, schematics to express ourselves, to communicate.

Using a Kanban board to visualize

Kanban is a Japanese term meaning signboard or graphic.

In Kanban, the key is visualization. We can use Kanban boards to effectively visualize any process workflow – it can show us what is happening, where it is happening, by whom it is happening …even why.

It can be used to easily view blockers, priorities, work types and so on.

But it’s not always easy to get the visualization right.

Viewing it right

In his last couple of posts, Hrishikesh has been writing about how Kanban can be used in the context of government projects. Building on that a bit further to see how a Kanban board can bring in impactful changes by simply visualizing things differently.

Let’s look at an example from the National eGovernance Plan site.

The image below shows the status of various MMPs.

A mission mode project (MMP) is an individual project within the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) that focuses on one aspect of electronic governance, such as banking, land records or commercial taxes etc.

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The image conveys the classification of the projects (Central, State, Integrated).

It tells us the stage in which the project is (MMPs delivering services, MMPs delivering services partially, Under Implementation, Design and Development, DPR stage) as seen from the legend.

See my attempt below at visualizing the same information differently.

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Zooming in a bit for a more readable view

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All I did was turn the status image around on its head – the lanes at the top indicate which stage of the lifecycle the MMPs are in. The color of the MMP indicates whether they are Central(blue), State(purple) or Integrated MMPs(light yellow).

By looking at this picture you can immediately see that many of the MMPs have managed to start delivering full services with just a few stuck in the initial stages.

By looking at the colors you get an idea that most Central and Integrated MMPs are in a more advanced state than State MMPs.

We also see that a considerable number of State MMPs are delivering services partially. And with a little more focus on these specific ones there is a good chance they may be able to start delivering services fully soon.
So the information radiated from this view is a lot richer in content and also has more of an action-bias – it tells you where to invest your efforts.

Endless Possibilities

Is there something more we can do here? The answer is a bid resounding yes. We can enrich the card itself to convey a lot more about the status of the MMP.
Let’s take one of the MMPs as an example – we can enhance this card to indicate details like owner, issues, priority, due dates, sub-tasks pending and so on.

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What I have suggested here is my take on how the same information can be viewed differently to convey much more to the viewer. There are many everyday situations in the workplace and elsewhere where we can use Kanban boards and other visuals aids.

Use the power of Kanban for visualization to communicate, share and engage. Let the images do the talking!!

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