Improvement Insights Blog
Data is Like a Salmon
To make your Excel data usable, it can’t be chopped up like sushi. Here’s why:
“I look at a lot of Excel data that people send me, and unfortunately most of them have been trying to make their spreadsheet pretty so that humans can read it. No, that’s dumb, all right?
“Very often they chop it up into little bits and they either spread it out all over the spreadsheet or they spread it out in separate worksheets because this is May, June, July… and so there’s no way to take that data and turn it into a performance chart: a Control Chart, a Pareto Chart. Right? It’s all chunked out. It’s like if you took a salmon, you chopped it all up and wished it would swim. It won’t swim.
“So what I want you to do is get your data together into one spreadsheet. Instead of orienting it by time horizontally (that’s how people look at things), if you want to draw charts and stuff, [orient] it vertically. Day one, day two, day three, day four, day five… January, February, March, April, May, June, because that makes it so much easier to do charts, and the charts are going to tell the story much better than the spreadsheet ever will. Nobody wants to read your spreadsheet.
“So that’s my Improvement Insight for this week: Stop whacking up your data. Put it all together into one sheet in a column, and you’ll find it’s a lot easier to chart, and then people will understand it.
“Let’s create a hassle-free America; hassle-free healthcare. Let’s go out and improve something this week.”