Useful material to aid decision makers and problem solvers
When we come across something that may be useful to business decision-makers in general, but may not be directly linked to strategic decision making, we drop it on this page for a month or so.
Visualisation of data: free software
In decision making, getting and analysing the right data is critical. However, often tables and even basic charts, do not go far to assist us in understanding the patterns and relationships. Excel has come a long way over the years, but still has its limitations when it comes to charting.
Therefore, I would like to bring to your attention, two incredibly useful tools for plotting and examining large amounts of data.
The first is Tibco Spotfire. This is an incredibly powerful and easy to use software program that can easily show 5 dimensions on one chart – and it has the ability to filter, sort, and segment with sliders and other tools. You can basically display a wide variety of “pivot table” output without even creating the pivot table (it does it for you). Tibco has a wide array of (fantastic) products and is commercially available, but there is a free one year trial cloud version available at http://spotfire.tibco.com/silverspotfire/default.aspx .
The second is software that creates “sparklines” within Excel. Sparklines are miniature, high density, graphics designed by Edwar Tufte (see his book in recommended reading):
“A sparkline is a small intense, simple, word-sized graphic with typographic resolution. Sparklines mean that graphics are no longer cartoonish special occasions with captions and boxes, but rather sparkline graphic can be everywhere a word or number can be: embedded in a sentence, table, headline, map, spreadsheet, graphic.”
From Edward Tufte’s book Beautiful Evidence.
Incredibly, Fabrice Rimlinger offers software to create these charts for free (but please make a donation to him) and can be downloaded from his blog at:
For assistance in using these tools and in visualising your data and concepts, contact Simon Gifford at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Free Appe iPhone/iPod/iPad application: MindTools
A useful app that includes 100 useful management, business and productivity skills in a tool-kit that offers assistance on a variety of topics such as team management, decision making, problem solving, personal productivity and strategy.
Click here to take you to the place where you can download the app.
Free Apple iPhone/iPod application to help make decisions
Want to take the pain out of those big decisions? Download the free Apple App to help you – ideal for procrastinators! (Note – this is a real, working app but is “tongue-in-cheek” – if you want real help with decisions, speak to Genesis!
While you are here, why not have a look around our blog for other (hopefully more useful) inputs to assist you in taking strategic decisions. The page on articles and research is particularly useful. And seriously… if you want real help in taking a strategic decision, give us a call – thats what we do for a living! (You can also find us on Facebook)
Click here to take you to the place you can download your Apple App
The surprising truth about what motivates us!
This is a great video production by Dan Pink. Some serious research revealing some fascinating and useful conclusions. And delivered in an incredibly entertaining and memorable way.
Visualisation tools: the “A Periodic Table of Visualisation Tools”
I stumbled across this gem while surfing on delicious.com. It is a little hard to describe without viewing, but basically gives examples of different types of data visualisation (data, strategy, information, concept, metaphor, etc). Some are basic, but others are more novel.
A useful source when thinking about visualising.
Free book: “Strategy, leadership and the soul”
Although not directly related to strategic decision-making, Jennifer Sertl’s book offers guidance in terms of the context within decisions should be made. Her perspectives about how organisations have evolved and where we are in that evolution are innovative and challenging. The advice on what to do about this may even result in you shifting your perspectives a little. Free download below:
“Quick and dirty” cash flow valuation model and more….
Complements of Inc. magazine, a quick spreadsheet application to help you value companies. Download from this link.
Business Valuation Model
Actually, Inc.com has a wide range of useful downloadable tools – especially useful for small and medium-sized businesses such as business plan templates. Go to Inc.com tools and see for yourself.