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Visual intelligence (Part 1)

Engaging clients with visual information

September 24, 2019

Home Blog Research & intelligence Visual intelligence (Part 1)
Charts and data

With my move to LAC Group this year, I spend more time thinking about visual intelligence. LAC provides competitive intelligence and business research. We think about how to present findings to tap visual intelligence in a way that engages the audience. Engagement is key so the audience understands data and issues and makes the best decisions possible.

I find the need for better visual intelligence so compelling that it will feature in two of my upcoming conference sessions:

  • Competitive Intelligence in the Modern Law Firm, presented by Ark Group, takes place in NYC on September 25th. I will chair the conference and moderate a panel discussion Capturing the Attention of Decision Makers. One question I will ask the panelists: should the results of competitive intelligence be more visual.
  • The Futures Conference, presented by the College of Law Practice Management, is on October 24-25 in Nashville. I will lead a short session, Visual Intelligence. More on that below.

My interest in visual intelligence began in my first job after college. I was an econometrician (statistical economist) and financial analyst. My work involved figuring out how to tell the story behind large datasets. And that required creating charts. This was well before the age of PowerPoint or, if truth be known, PCs. It was all done on mainframes.

I paused my quest for better visual intelligence during law school. Back in the 1980s, the idea of legal data analytics, well, even legal data, barely existed. I saw no place for visuals in law school.

I picked up again when, after earning my JD, I joined Bain & Company as a management consultant. Bain at the time never wrote reports. Did I say never? Consultants delivered strategy findings using slides, many with carefully designed visuals.

After Bain, I started in the legal market in practice management, legal tech and knowledge management. Within that first year, I read three books by Edward Tufte, whom I and many, consider a leading thinker on how to present information. That is, on visual intelligence. The lawyers at my firm used illustrations to help explain concepts to juries and transactions to clients.  I even co-authored an article called Practicing Law with Pictures with examples from my firm (If anyone has pre-1993 hard copy of Law Tech News, I would love to find this article. I don’t have hardcopy and it does not exist digitally).

More recently, but still 16 years ago, I wrote about visual displays in e-discovery, in this blog post (featuring a product called Attenex). Even in the early days of e-discovery, it was clear to me that visualizing large document collections was important.

In our current age of information abundance and overload, gaining the attention of an audience has become even harder than it was years ago. So presenting information in a compelling way has become even more important.

We need to think carefully about how we present information, about tapping visual intelligence. We can choose many approaches beyond a text report. One way is to have just a few bullets and a couple of visuals. Another is with an infographic. And to really engage an audience, we may need to tell a story or simulate a game show (more on that in a moment).

Last May, I proposed a short session on visual intelligence for the Futures Conference. My vision was that three people would share visual intelligence examples. I sent an email to all Fellows (over 200) soliciting examples.

I received far more samples than I anticipated. What follows are three of them. Each has some short text written by the person who provided the sample that explains the purpose of the visual and context.

After the conference, I will publish another post with additional samples and a report on my session. It’s only 15 minutes long, so each visual will get about 4 minutes max during that session. The samples here are not necessarily the ones that will feature at the conference. But all contributors agreed to my publishing their samples.

Keep in mind that the samples here are meant to spur your thinking and imagination. Many types of visuals displays are possible and engaging audiences can go well beyond visuals to be highly interactive, like a game show, but that I cannot easily illustrate here.

For GCs, Prioritizing Concerns Grows Ever More Challenging 

By Patrick Fuller, VP Legal, ALM Intelligence

Purpose: Share with General Counsels industry-wide top concerns.

Narrative: Looking across the five major issue areas: Privacy & Data Security, Risk & Crisis Management, Litigation, Intellectual Property and Regulations & Enforcement, we identified the top challenges cited most frequently by GCs.

For GCs, Prioritizing Concerns Grows Ever More Challenging
Ron Friedmann

Ron Friedmann

Ron Friedmann is Chief Knowledge & Information Officer for LAC Group. Ron helps clients and LAC find, use, organize and re-use information and know-how, especially with technology.
Ron Friedmann

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