Presenting Data and Information

It is always a challenge in my consulting work (and indeed in any business) to present complex information in a clear and compelling way, so that people can see clearly what is going on and come to agreement about what to do. Therefore, I was delighted to have the opportunity recently to participate in Dr. Edward Tufte’s training program, Presenting Data and Information. Dr. Tufte is a world-reknowned expert in the presentation of complex information for analysis and decision-making, and a real innovator in the field.

The seminar was terrific. While I was already familiar with Dr. Tufte’s work, I learned a lot which I am planning to incorporate in my work in the future. You can expect to see more about my thoughts in upcoming posts on my blog.

If you’re interested in the subject, I strongly recommend Dr. Tufte. His books are terrific: thought-provoking, full of excellent research and examples, and absolutely beautiful. He also has an excellent web site: I particularly recommend its online forums.

Staying Alive

McKenna Long & Aldridge and Alvarez & Marsal hosted a conference on Thursday, entitled “Staying Alive”. There were two panels discussing various aspects of how to keep your business healthy in this challenging environment. It was an excellent panel, with entrepreneurs, turnaround/workout firms, banks and attorneys all represented. There was plenty of dire news and downbeat attitude, but also some good advice:

  • This enviroment is making it very difficult to plan ahead. Revenues in particular are hard to project. They are prone to sudden changes and forward “visibility” is limited: sometimes as little as a week or two. It is critically important to keep an eye on your revenue pipeline.
  • The most critical challenge for businesses today is maintaining liquidity. Revenues are unpredictable, customers are slow to pay, and credit is limited or even unavailable.
  • You should be preparing contingency plans: Plan A, plan B, and the “break the glass” plan in case of extreme emergency. Why? Because when the time comes to use any of these plans, it will be too late to make them up.
  • You should communicate with your investors and your lenders. The good will in those relationships will help you in hard times.
  • If you believe you have issues, confront them directly and quickly.
  • Because of all the turmoil, it’s a great time to be building your brand and increasing your market share.

These are all great pieces of advice. Most importantly, there is plenty of help available. I met a lot of great folks who can help.

Business Networking Events in Atlanta

I’ve had the opportunity to participate in several very interesting business networking events recently. They just go to show how active the Atlanta business community continues to be, even in this difficult economic climate.

  • ACG Capital Connection, February 10. This is the pre-eminent gathering of deal-makers in the Southeast, sponsored by the Atlanta chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth (ACG). Over ___ people attended this year. Corporate business development folks, private equity investors, investment bankers, service professionals and entrepreneurs were all well-represented. It’s an annual event, and I strongly recommend it. I also recommend the ACG, which meets monthly and is always a great place to meet interesting people who are making things happen in the Atlanta business community.
  • Startup Riot, February 18. About 50 companies presented startup plans to over 300 attendees. A lot of great plans and a lot of potentially very interesting new businesses were presented, ranging from safety equipment to web services. It’s hard to draw too many conclusions from a three-minute pitch, but I’m hopeful that some of these companies will turn into real and substantial businesses. That would be good for everyone in Atlanta.

I met a lot of great people at these events. I look forward to seeing them again, and hope I’ll see you at an event like this in the future.