What do you see in the picture? Two faces looking at each other or a jug? Both?
In music it’s easy: You put a few musicians together, hand out music sheets, everyone knows how to read them correctly and you hear the desired music in the right rhythm.
Similarly with construction: A construction drawing is made and each construction expert can extract exactly what the draughtsman meant.
Skew tones in the business world
And in our business world, where we encounter presentations, diagrams, graphs and tables every day? Here often a completely different music plays.
Various illustrations in diverse colours and shapes, with different structures, unequal descriptions, and, and, and. Exactly here, where the correct interpretation is essential, where important business decisions are made on the basis of graphics and tables, here – spoken in music – an unharmonious piece would come out far away from the actual melody.
Why? »Because everyone interprets the illustrations in their own way and comparability is often not given«. The consequence? »You only get half the truth,« says Nadine Köchermann, visualization expert at fme.
The Excel chaos gets companies out of rhythm
»I used to display graphics the way most people do: I created an extensive table in Excel, selected a nice chart type from the templates, went to fine tuning regarding colors etc. and voila: The chaos was preprogrammed! The Excel chaos I keep encountering at clients leads in the most drastic case to wrong business decisions, because
- not all the information you actually need is displayed
- all information is displayed, but cannot be clearly interpreted«,
Composer, conductor and musician in one: Nadine knows her business, and how!
The young employee of our > Business Intelligence Business Unit has been working on the topic of visualization for four years now and has quickly eclipsed many others of her kind: In April 2018 Nadine completed the IBCS® certification for successful design of reports and presentations at the > HICHERT+FAISST IBCS® Institute with excellence. And not only as the youngest participant, but also as the best in the course! She immediately took 9th place out of 156 places on the eternal list of the best. After the multi-stage training with final examination and the provision of work samples, Nadine is a > certified IBCS® consultant and thus THE visualization expert at fme.
»In short: I simply enjoy the visualization of surfaces! As a consultant in particular, I see it as my duty to provide holistic advice. I don’t just want to deliver added value underneath the surface in form of a software solution, I also want to offer added value above the surface with something that EVERYONE will find useful. This is exactly what I get reflected in client conversations when I present our visualization concept: Up to now, every client has identified himself with it without exception and immediately recognized the benefit. Many wanted to know more about the IBCS standards immediately,« reveals Nadine.
IBCS® and Hichert – what does that mean?
The International Business Communication Standards (IBCS®) are practical proposals for the design of presentations, reports, dashboards and the diagrams and tables they contain. The focus is on the application of a semantic notation, on a conception of content and on visual perception. These standards were developed by > Dr. Rolf Hichert, Prof. A.D. He is the Managing Partner of the HICHERT+FAISST IBCS® Institute and President of the IBCS Association.
Business communication meets the IBCS® standard if it meets the rules of the seven areas behind the acronym “SUCCESS”. These are:
- S ay: Convey a message. Do you have something to report? Often reports are merely a collection of data with no discernible message for the audience. This is also the case for most presentations.
- U nify: Apply semantic notation. Things which mean the same should look the same and things that are different should not look the same. Unambiguous design rules facilitate production and comprehension.
- C ondense: Increase information density. A high level of information density makes it possible to display complex facts. Only an overview of the entire picture permits correct evaluation of detailed information.
- C heck: Ensure visual integrity. The recipients of a report expect the data in it to be accurate. But are the correct data also presented accurately? Manipulated charts are a matter of fact in business communication.
- E xpress: Choose proper visualization. Good visualization starts with the selection of those diagrams and tables, which convey the desired message along with the underlying facts as quickly as possible.
- S implify: Avoid clutter. SIMPLIFY facilitates the readability of charts and tables. Eliminating ‘Noise’ and ‘Redundancy’ frees objects in a report from avoidable background noise.
- S tructure: Organize content. Reports and presentations have, in many cases, no logical structure. When things overlap and are incomplete, they make it hard to understand business communication.¹
The IBCS® standards are continuously developed further. This process is managed by the non-profit IBCS Association.
London Calling: the IBCS Annual Conference 2018
On June 8, 2018, the IBCS Annual Conference 2018 will take place in London. Nadine is of course there and is delighted: »The annual conference is almost like a big class reunion. You know each other and only meet people who are really interested in this topic. The basic feeling is like in the fme: familiar and cordial.«
Nadine particularly appreciates the open source idea behind the IBCS standards and explains: »Dr. Hichert laid a solid foundation with the founding of the institute in 2004. Now everyone can get involved and participate; the standards are constantly being enhanced together. The Institute’s website always gives you the opportunity to start discussions or ask questions. Furthermore, the annual conference is THE event: Among other things, version updates are coordinated here and topics are further elaborated.
What I’m most looking forward to doing in London is actively shaping the topics, meeting IBCS colleagues again and getting to know new ones. Especially those you read a lot from in the IBCS community and of course the biggest experts who all come together here,« says Nadine.
Giving and keeping an overview in everyday life
For Nadine the creation of a diagram etc. according to IBCS has become as easy as the Excel standard table in the past. In doing so, she combines the rules of success with her wealth of experience and uses the permitted scope for her own note. The results are impressive, as her > work samples prove.
The implementation of visualization standards is changing thinking throughout the company, explains Nadine: »Visualization is a major issue driven by management and has enormous reach within the company. Every department, every employee who creates or reads presentations, diagrams, graphics or tables is enabled to do this correctly thanks to the standards,« Nadine continues.
And suddenly the melody’s right.
Through Nadine, the employees, the management, the company can be able to present and read the whole truth in these presentations, diagrams, graphics and tables and finally make the right decisions on the basis of these.
»I can only say to any company: Do it! It’s a big step, but it’s worth it if you do it consequently«, encourages Nadine and adds: »I’ll be happy to support you with heart and passion!«
PS: As a child and teenager Nadine played the flute and also hit some notes on the guitar. Now, as IBCS expert, she brings harmony to the visualization projects of our clients 😉
¹HICHERT+FAISST GmbH. (06. 06 2018). International Business Communication Standards (IBCS®). Retrieved from https://www.ibcs.com/ibcs/