Part III Future Visualization of People Influence on Project

Introduction to PartIII Future Visualization of People’s Influence on Projects

In Part I we looked at Social Networking, In Part II is an evaluation of  current visualizations.  The point has been made that we can use the enormous visual bandwidth to think.  Part III is going to add some more evaluations of current Visualizations and Conclude with an example of how we can use existing open tools to gather and visualize data for our projects.

Evaulations of Current Visualization Technology

First we all know there is no escape to Death and Taxes, so where does the US taxpayer money go?  If you don’t know than glance at the US Budget 2009. Or how about a real time map of US Stimulus Spending.

A 3 dimensional visualization of semantic language is the “Visual Thesaurus” .   This Thesaurus is novel because it allows us to locate words that are related in terms of closeness in 3-d, we can browse and explore them in a very intuitive fashion.  There are many other proprietary solutions  Tableau Software is very interesting.  It has the ability to combine data from many different sources for example spreadsheets and databases, the output is very nice.  You can publish interactive visualizations to the web.  This software shows great promise for the enterprise user due to the powerful combination.  You can download a free trial.

Adobe Flex is a development tool that enables developers to create clean Spring Graphs that are interactive.  There is also a JavaScript Visualization tool kit that can produce some Radial Graphs, Tree Maps, Hyperbolic Trees and Space Trees.   The visiual human project is a kind of spooky way to view a person.

The ubiquitous of visualization now is incredible we all know google earth, micosoft live earth, but how about NASA World Wind an incredible view of our solar system.  You can view the Mars Exploration images.

Musically, If you have an account with you can use this tool LastGraph to generate personal graph of your personal music history.

Some more links to Academic Reseaech on these concepts Online library of information visualization environments. Multi-V Hierarchical Clustering Explorer

One of my personal favorite places to spelunk around visually on the net is in The New York Times Visualization Lab.   A personal Favorite is The Ebb and Flow of Movies: Box Office Receipts 1986 -2008.  Be prepared to devote some time to this one to be able to understand the simplicity and the beauty of such a visualization of data.  This is a fabulous way to explore information.Glen B Allerman discusses the uselfulness of visualizing complex data at Hearding Cats.   The beauty of it is; the intuitive grasp of the big picture with the ability to drill into the granularity without having to stop and think.  Some of the software behind NYT is IBM.  IBM Many Eyes is open for uploading datasets and sharing.  IBM Many Eyes is deceptively powerful.

EPIC systems has a very nice Trend Compass which is an interactive charting tool that can model the results as they change with a movie time line.  Gapminder exploits this to very nice effect, a very famous presentation at TED by Hans Rosling in 2006 exploited this type of data visualization motion.

Challenge to Project Managers

The problem is why with all of these beautiful ways to communicate do we still draw little pictures on napkins to manage our people on projects.

Power Interest Grid

PMBOK Fourth Edition Power Interest Grid

This is a simple Visualization of Stakeholder Influence over time I created in Google docs in about 20 minutes to expand this static graph. Play with it change the colors and the size and add a Trail to G by clicking on it. Can you imagine using a static graph again?

There are a few places to go for inspiration.  Twitter has an open API or Application Programming Interface.  We are begining to see some interesting uses from the data sets. Malina will analyze your twitter messages.  This is an example of this Open Social Network Analysis.

There is some connection between Stakeholders.  Lets just say people.  My question is since we can’t measure motivation directly how can we manage motivation?  Especially, on distributed teams?

Social Network Analysis of Twitter User  Easy to spot Network Nodes

Social Network Analysis of Twitter User Easy to spot Network Nodes

The reason we want to measure this as Project Managers is Motivation.  I was particularly inspired by Kailash Awati and his vast knowledge and his ability to stimulate positive dialogs, one post in particular Managing participant motivation in knowledge management projects . The subject is Motivation.  If we can locate the Connectors “the people who link us up with the world … people with a special gift for bringing the world together” we activate them as Salesmen.  If we can locate these connectors on our projects, we can also have a way to gauge interest.  We can also reduce the Complexity of Communication Channels on our projects to a discreet manageable set.

To restate from Part I This is related to recent information how Google cancels an incubation project.    The New York Times interview of  Jeff HueberWhen evaluating nascent projects, Google takes a hard look at interest – and in these cases, the interest simply wasn’t there… They were not especially popular with customers; they had difficulty attracting Google employees to develop them.”

How can we do this?  I haven’t done it yet, but I am planning to do it.  I will use Google Forms, to create a form asking stakeholders to choose from a list of people that they know working on the project.  From that point I will mash it up using perhaps Javascript or IBM Many Eyes there are many open options to securely and easily create this communication managment artifact.


Success is related to connections;  the critical core connections, the quality of those connections and the interest of the ideas of those connections.  If we can focus our management efforts on people who can connect and spread good information we can be more successful.  By using existing Visualization Technology on our Projects we can exploit the Enourmous bandwidth for Visualizing Peoples Influence on our Project.  The goals are to identify the Connectors, reduce the Communication Complexity, Measure the Interest and Motivate People.

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Lets Visualize Peoples Influence on Projects by Robert Higgins is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
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