Thoughts on bell shaped curves and charting

Bell shaped curves can be applied to data on an almost infinite number of subjects.

In the example below, the curve displays an example of employee performance; where the vertical axis is the number of employees, the horizontal axis performance levels or ratings.

Bell shaped curves only work if the data sample or universe is sufficiently large. In the case of employee performance, it likely would not work work for a group of 20 employees, but probably would work for 100 employees.

More to the point, it can be informative and assist with decision making if you considered the curve for data like:

  • Doctors ratings for a certain specialties
  • Automotive quality ratings
  • Employee performance
  • Data on consumer products
  • Investment performance
  • Technical data analysis
  • There are almost an infinite number of examples

Curves are useful as they tell the user on what data groupings to focus on to move the data/distribution in a favorable direction.

In the example of employee performance, if some of the population in the “meets expectations” or “below exceptions” groupings on the graph could be moved to the right then one might assume that with this improvement, business performance may improve as well.

Charts and graphs and numbers are the language of business. Notwithstanding the type of business, numbers and their graphical representation, assuming the data is accurate, tell the story of how well the business is performing and of equal importance, the performance of the leadership team.

Skills in graphical presentation are particularly important to support functions (HR, purchasing, IT, etc.) as they can be persuasive in supporting recommendations to operating executives.

***** S&E *****

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