Storytelling with Data

Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic

Published by






Reviewed by

Dean Burnell MBCS


10 out of 10

This book takes a really deep and considered look into something that many IT and business professionals struggle with in the increasingly ‘data driven’ world in which we now live; how to become better at interpreting and presenting data in a way that is both relevant and meaningful.

It is written by a consultant who has been working with data over many years and across many organisations (including some time with Google). The method and approach described in the book is not industry or role specific, rather it focuses on the fundamental concepts of good design and communication, using case studies from technology, education, product manufacture as well as the non-profit sector.

The book provides detailed examples throughout, often taking an original concept for a data design through a number of iterative stages, step-by-step, so you can really see the impact of the ideas evolving across the pages. Often it seems to be as much about what to exclude in your communication, as about what to include.

The book is arranged into 6 chapters, and covers 5 key lessons which are:

  1. Understand the context.
  2. Choose an appropriate visual display.
  3. Eliminate the clutter.
  4. Focus attention where you want it.
  5. Tell a story.

Each of the lessons includes rationale and scientific reasoning (e.g. Gestalt principles) as well as links and references to other relevant data visualisation resources, and you can even go to the book website to download the files that support some of the examples provided. I found this book to be a highly insightful overview of what is often an undervalued business skill, but one that is likely to become more important than ever in an age of big data. Many of the points made were both obvious and profound at the same time.

I also liked the emphasis the book placed on developing an eye for design as a development process, something we can all improve in our working practices.

This book is excellent value for money and recommended reading for Business Analysts and Project/Programme managers or anyone who finds they struggle to achieve the impact they hope for when attempting to communicate their reasoning and analysis.

Further information: Wiley

February 2016