How creativity can lead to insights with Tableau

The cicadas are following their 17-year pattern.  Find new patterns with Tableau.

Today, I’m expanding on my post from a few weeks ago “Expand your creativity … by letting yourself be creative.”  Many of my clients feel they are not creative and I try to encourage them to find the inner kid with the crayon — except now we have powerful software for drawing.

Recently, I’ve found myself playing around with Tableau 8 to generate something artistic, for only that reason.  It’s a healthy distraction that let’s you explore the tool with a different mindset.  Here are two interesting results (at least I think so).

Tableau Bubble Art

Firestorm of circles

Images (c) 2013 DecisionViz

While these are cool and fun, what occurred to me is more interesting.  By remixing our typical approach to analysis and visualization, i.e. think about our data, pick a visual, then look for patterns, outliers, etc., we provide an opportunity to arrive at insights in new ways.

For example, in the first image, there are two red circles in the center, and most others are along the outside.  Why?  On the second, red circles seem to float straight up, while green floats toward the upper right.  Another pattern to be explored…

I’m suggesting this more as a way to unleash a little creativity in your day, but it has the potential to open up possibilities that you can’t arrive to through linear thinking.

This concept is similar to a lateral thinking technique in Edward De Bono’s “Six Thinking Hats” (on page 130 he suggests brainstorming based on a random word from the dictionary).

Please post some of your artwork, or email, and share what you learned!

Posted in Big Data, Creativity, Tableau Software, Visualization

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