Good graphs, look at the Economist blog

By | March 25, 2014

I have subscribed to the Economist for 20+ years. Solid reporting. Libertarian angle, but with a strong heart. Another benefit are the excellent graphs.

Consultants love graphs. Executives are visual people, and graphs can make an enormous impact without using too many words. The following graphs are all from the Economist blog called graphic detail. Click on the links to get to the stories, but these graphics are so good that you will get the point immediately.

Safe Skies: Despite a recent tragedy, air flights are getting safer here

Economist - safer skies

Less is Moore: A golden rule of microchips appears to be coming to an end here

Economist - Moore Law

Obama and Aliens: The greatest mass deportation in American history here

Economist - Deportation

Black Gold: A century of jittery oil production and prices here

Economist - Black Gold

Surgery Required: Health care in America is ludicrously expensive here

Economist - Hospital costs

Shares in Emerging Markets: Scarce here

Economist - Market Capitalization

Empire building: The expansion of lego here

Economist - Lego















Key Takeaways: Some things I found most compelling about these graphs:

  • Authoritative use of large data sets (30 years, 100+ years)
  • Strong visual to see two trends heading in opposite directions
  • Shows inflection points in the trends
  • Clear attribution of the reference source (e.g., Department of Homeland Security)
  • Obvious point; (e.g., US healthcare is 300%+ the cost of other countries)
  • Use of maps and graphics when appropriate (e.g., Lego)

Train your eye. Look through business magazines, research papers, and presentations to look for good graphs, tables, and charts. All consultants need to know what good looks like. One of the tips from McKinsey Way is to draw 1 graph a day. That is truly good advice, as this helps you to tell visual stories.  I just made my 1 slide tonight in the hotel room – will use with the client CxO tomorrow.

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2 thoughts on “Good graphs, look at the Economist blog

  1. jefmiles

    Do you have any ideas or tips on how they’d have graphs this professional and easy to read?

    I traditionally use powerpoint but there should be a better way..

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