The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

A Picture Tells A Thousand Data Points …

One of the things I love is hearing anecdotes of how people got companies to do things they initially didn’t want to do.

It is particularly of interest to me when those anecdotes are based around creative approaches to achieving their goal.

Recently I heard one that I think is of particular brilliance.

While the move towards electric cars is inevitable, the reality is that unless manufacturers make their cars highly desirable – in terms of appearance, function and excitement – it’s going to be a slow sell.

Let’s face it, Tesla’s success has little to do with how they’re powered and more to do with the fact it borrows from the sort of ‘future tech’ we were sold in cartoons as little kids.

Silent? Check.

Gull wing doors? Check.

Central computer screen? Check.

Self driving abilities? Check.

Hyper-speed button? Check … even though they call it ‘insane’.

But as cool as this all is – and it is – the reality is it comes at a price that most car manufacturers can’t get away with, so they have to try and find ways to offer desirability but at a lower unit price.

Which leads to this story I heard recently …

Because of the batteries needed to power the new generation of electric cars, the reality is most cars will be designed to be slightly taller to accommodate them. In turn, what this means is that to stop the cars looking slightly weird, they require bigger wheels – which adds a huge cost to the manufacturing process.

So the story I heard is that the designer of one of these cars was being told by his board that they would not sanction the bigger wheels as the price was too high.

He tried all manner of ways to get them to change their mind, but they felt it was a purely aesthetic issue and one they could live with.

So as a final act of desperation, he decided to do a presentation to the board about the importance of perspective.

In his presentation, he showed 2 pictures.

This …

And this …

The top he said would be how their car would look with the smaller, cheaper wheels.

The bottom would be how their car would look with the bigger, more expensive wheels.

Or said another way, one would look weird, one would look normal.

Apparently the board smiled.

Then approved his recommendation.

The reason I’m saying this is that we live in times where there appears – at least to me – an over-reliance on data to explain/decide/justify everything.

Of course data is important, but unless you do something with it that your audience can relate to, it’s pointless. And that’s why I love the above story so much because what the electric car designer did, was remind us how visual storytelling can influence or frame an argument in in ways data alone can’t always achieve.

Worth remembering next time you are writing a deck and filling it with a 100 pages of data explanation.

14 Comments so far
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Brilliant story with a brilliant lesson for all data drowning planners.

Comment by George

wish theyd used a picture of campbell and his mate paul to tell the story. id buy one of their fucking cars for that.

Comment by andy@cynic

That means Baz won’t be a customer. Unless they supply a ladder with purchase.

Comment by DH

hed need a ladder for the fucking shetland pony.

Comment by andy@cynic

Never gets old does it.

Comment by Bazza


Comment by Rob

So mature.

Comment by Bazza

designers trump fucking data monkeys.

Comment by andy@cynic

Did they A/B test it?

Comment by John


Comment by andy@cynic

and why the fuck havent you written something about data monkeys calling themselves data scientists these days? its so fucking obvious why theyre doing it and its bullshit. like saying fuckers who check out the horse racing guide is a data scientist. what a pile of shit.

Comment by andy@cynic

I’m assuming, actually just guessing because I’ve noticed that it has ridiculously large wheels, that this story is referring to BMW’s i3.This would make a mockery of your perfectly formed argument if it is because the i3 looks like a shit Shetland pony with big wheels stuck on it.

Comment by Marcus Brown

The BMW i-series is rubbish fullstop.

Comment by Bazza

Nope. It wasn’t BMW … but I get why you would say that.

Comment by Rob

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