The intersection between HR strategy and HR technology

Infographics Suck

Infographics Suck

Mar 27, 2013

I was riding my bike around Marin (north of San Francisco) this fall, it was a bit cloudy, grey and not as bright as usual.  Just the week before, I had purchased a new pair of lenses for my sunglasses, just for this occasion, and I was absolutely stunned at the difference it made to my ride.  I felt like I was seeing the road and the vistas for the first time.  Indeed, it was simply the first time I was seeing the views with a Yellow #20 lens.  The reality is that I’d done this exact ride dozens of times before.  I commented my amazement to my riding buddies, how different everything was, brighter, more cheerful, and happy.  But alas, it was just the Yellow #20 versus my usual middle grey.

The current world seems to be in love with the infographic.  Hell, I’m in love with the infographic.  They are pretty, colorful, easy to understand, present only the key pieces of information that you need.  In 45 seconds, every one of us can be conversant in a topic with a very defined point of view.  Well, actually, this is exactly the problem.  You see, while the infographic is a very valuable tool, we should all realize that it’s there as a precision marketing tool.  It is there just to provide a point of view, not a complete conversation.  Here are a couple of things you can do to combat “infographic conventional wisdom.”

  • Take infographics with a grain of salt – statistics are useful, but remember that there is a whole book called “how to lie with statistics.”
  • Question everything – we don’t always look at the source, nor do we ponder the alternative points of view when looking at these things.
  • Evaluate the publisher – if the infographic comes from a vendor, just remember it’s a marketing tool.
  • Rely on research – infographics will continue to be a good source for quick summaries, but research with full commentaries still outvalue the quick infographic by far.

So why am I writing this in an HR blog?  As buyers of HR technology and services, if we are not already flooded with infographics, we will be quite soon.  We love these things for good reason – they are so easy to use, and marketers know it.  Hell, I’ve been known to produce an infographic when I’m presenting a business case to a steering committee.  The problem is it’s too easy to take them without full context and conversation.  90% of the time they are a single point of view only, and an alternative vendor may have statistics proving why their own software is better in exactly the opposite direction.

This great infographic from http://visual.ly/effectiveness-infographics.

InfographicsSuck

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 comments

  1. Steve Douglas /

    Be interested to get your take on infographics being used as more concise job descriptions tool.

  2. Steve: I’ll admit that I’m totally intrigued by the infographic resume. There’s a tool called ResumUP.com that I played with a while back that allows you to create your own infographic. Infographic resumes are great ways to create initial interest, but are quickly supplanted by real resumes with more detailed information. Visual interest is key to successfully getting past stage 1, but that interest fades once you actually have to talk to someone – perhaps even while a candidate is still in initial screening before conversations happen.

  3. Wow steve: I totally didn’t answer your question.

    I love the idea of the infographic job description. One of the biggest complaints about job descriptions is how poorly written they usually are, and many companies put so much data on them that they become useless as communication tools.

    I can envision a job description where you pull the top 5-7 skills or competencies for a job and display in a graph form, somehow visually depict a roadmap of the job’s first 90 days and expectations for activities, etc… It would be incredibly cool to use some sort of bar to visualize job level and education requirements instead of text that users have to search for.

    Great idea. Have you been thinking about this and have you or anyone else deployed it?

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