Delivering Data Analytics, with Nicholas Kelly

Episode 190

We’ve all heard of 1970’s Apollo 13 mission that was supposed to send a 3-man crew to the moon, but once NASA became aware of an on-board explosion, it became all about rescuing the crew. 

Ron Howard’s 1995 movie gives a glimpse of how mission control staff in Houston reacted to information about the explosion. 

When an alarm on the command module flashed, signaling a power drop, Flight Director Gene Kranz (portrayed by Ed Harris) turned to the mission controller in charge of emergencies and said “is this an instrumentation problem, or are we looking at real power loss here?” That officer, named Sy Liebergot and played by the director’s brother Clive Howard said “It’s, it’s reading a quadruple failure – that can’t happen! It’s, it’s got to be instrumentation.”

But by following their procedures, NASA confirmed it wasn’t an instrumentation problem, the ship had actually suffered a devastating explosion, and at that point they swung into rescue mode. 

NASA aren’t the only ones who, on seeing data put in front of them, are so quick to dismiss it.

Dashboards – and the work it takes to implement them – isn’t trivial. Yet many of them fail…meaning that once they’re built they never get looked at. 

There are those who blame technical problems for this, but just like in Apollo 13, the main failures are due to people problems. The technology can be used to visualize  exactly the operational data that people literally  asked for…and present them with self-serve solutions, but they ignore the data, waving it away as some sort of instrumentation problem

Our guest is going to tell us the right way to pull off dashboard projects.  

He’ll show how to engage the stakeholders to express what metrics they really need, ones that show how the organization is tracking towards reaching its vision.

Nicholas Kelly, currently the principal consultant and trainer at G&K Consulting, holds a Bachelor of Computer Science from University College Cork. Formerly a Deloitte Analytics Senior Manager, he specializes in designing and developing dashboards for major global companies, including banks and Formula 1 teams. Nick is a frequent speaker at international conferences, having trained thousands of professionals in data visualization and analytics adoption. As a management consultant, educator, and author, his focus is on teamwork, inventive methods, and bridging technical gaps to increase data literacy. He is also the creator of business board games and the author of the book “Delivering Data Analytics.”

Let’s go to Seattle where I caught up with Nick Kelly. 


Chapter Timestamps

00:00:00 – Intro

00:03:57 – Welcome Nick

00:08:18 – Why dashboard projects fail

00:34:46 – PSA

00:35:35 – Building the dashboard

00:57:12 – Where to get book; contact Nick


Listen to episode

People, products and concepts mentioned in show:

The book and site for Delivering Data Analytics

Nick on LinkedIn

Nick is the inventor of the Dashboard Wireframe Kit and the DataStory Cards

Waterfall vs Agile project methodologies

BFCM – Black-Friday Cyber-Monday

Data storytelling cards
Nick has made storyboarding cards for data dashboards.

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