Presenting Data Effectively, Second Edition, by Stephanie Evergreen

Stephanie Evergreen’s new book can help you create persuasive, data-driven documents that present your analysis in the best possible light.

Presenting Data Effectively by Stephanie Evergreen is now available in a full-color second edition. The 226-page book is organized into four main topics- graphics, text, color, and arrangement- and includes downloadable resources from the publisher, SAGE Publications. While many of the concepts are applicable to creating content with BI tools, the focus is packaging results using Microsoft Office tools like PowerPoint and Word. By presenting data “effectively”, Ms. Evergreen provides best practices to make our data engaging and persuasive, whether our audience is upper management or a prospective client.

I did not read the first edition of this book, but the addition of color makes the second edition very useful. My favorite feature of the book is the illustrations, as Ms. Evergreen explains several “not so great” solutions to a problem followed by a best practice, making it easy to see how her suggestions make life better for the reader.

While some attention is given specifically to data visualization and charting, readers interested that topic will want to check out Stephanie Evergreen’s other book, Effective Data Visualization: The Right Chart for the Right Data.

As somebody who frequently creates proposals, data-filled customer documentation, and presentations for webinars and user conferences, I found the book to be loaded with tips, including several new tricks I plan to incorporate into my work as a consultant and an analyst. If your role in the organization is to be persuasive with data, quality and readability of the final deliverables are important and you’ll find a lot of good advice and practical tips here.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

SAP Lumira Essentials

Until Lumira has its own movie, at least we have books to appreciate.

Dmitry Anoshin has the distinction of being the author of one of just two books about SAP Lumira. SAP Lumira Essentials (ISBN 978-1785281815) is offered by Packt Publishing and provides comprehensive coverage of the key features of SAP’s data discovery product.

The book was written using SAP Lumira version 1.21. Version 1.31 is the most current release, and will remain so for several months until SAP Lumira 2.0 makes its debut sometime in early 2017. SAP Lumira has been a difficult product to keep up with, having agile product updates roughly every six weeks, and Dmitry is to be commended for hitting a moving target.

While there have been changes to both the SAP Lumira product and its roadmap since version 1.21 was introduced, there’s some great things to love here. The book comes with a substantial amount of sample content, including some spreadsheets, a mySQL database and a universe. There’s an entire chapter on preparing data that shows how to perform data cleanup, enriching, and merging. There’s also a chapter on working with visualization extensions. This material translates well to the most current version of SAP Lumira.

Some of the topics covered have changed since this book’s publication. SAP has abandoned SAP Lumira Cloud in favor of SAP BusinessObjects Cloud, a completely different offering. SAP Lumira is now fully integrated with the SAP BusinessObjects platform. And the universe and BW connectivity is substantially improved.

That said, some people prefer having a book that they can make notes in instead of just online documentation. And this book is one that can answer a lot of questions about SAP Lumira.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

How We Got to Now by Steven Johnson

A engrossing account of how glass, cold, sound, clean, time, and light have shaped our modern world.

How We Got to Now is both a book and a PBS mini-series about six innovations- glass, cold, sound, clean, time, and light- that have shaped the world that we live in today. Each of these innovations are so commonplace that we take them for granted and their innovators and inventors are often forgotten. But just as he did with The Ghost Map (see related article, The Ghost Map), author Steven Johnson reveals the human story behind the innovations, particularly the events and smaller innovations that had to come first, as well as the unexpected innovations that continue to occur afterward. For example, Frederick Tudor’s shipments of frozen lake ice from New England to the southern United States is connected to Clarence Birdseye flash freezing vegetables, which is connected to the technology we now use to freeze embryos. Steven Johnson debunks the conventional wisdom that innovation comes from isolated “a-ha moments” or exclusively from well-known solo innovators like Thomas Edison or Henry Ford. But instead, innovation occurs from a series of smaller innovations, often developed over time and often by multiple people unaware that others are working on similar breakthroughs.

Good Mythical Morning hosts Rhett and Link discuss the book How We Got to Now.

The book also provides the foundation for an engaging six-part miniseries where Steven Johnson and PBS travel the globe uncovering the stories behind these six key innovations.

View the trailer for the PBS mini-series How We Got to Now, now available on Blu Ray and DVD.

I was able to borrow both the book and the mini-series DVD from my local library. It’s thought-provoking material and I can’t wait to hear what Steven Johnson will say in his keynote at next week’s ASUG SAP Analytics and BusinessObjects User Conference (follow #SABOUC on social media). If you’re headed to the conference, it’s not too late the pick up the Kindle edition of How We Got to Now to read on the flight to the event.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I borrowed a copy of this book from a public library and did not receive it free from its publisher. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Do the KIND Thing by Daniel Lubetzky

Are you doing the KIND thing at the office?

Do the KIND Thing by Daniel Lubetzky describes the ten principles the author has instilled into the culture of KIND Snacks as the organization’s founder and CEO. The book also shares the history of KIND Snacks, from its inception to a major player in the healthy snack industry.

Do the Kind Thing

The key principle, and the first one described in the book, is “Thinking with AND”. The “AND principle” is about making a choice to use “and” instead of “or”. So instead of creating a snack bar that tasted good or one that was healthy, KIND created a snack bar that tasted good “AND” was healthy. KIND has developed a unique product- one made with “ingredients you can see and pronounce”, one that uses whole ingredients instead of less expensive ingredients ground into a paste, and one that uses transparent packaging to “show off” the quality of the product. Of course, these once-innovative features are now being copied (with varying degrees of success) by KIND’s competitors, anxious to slow the momentum of the young upstart. Not only is the product offering unique, but so is the company culture, inspiring customers to share simple acts of kindness through its KIND Movement and donating a portion of company profits to KIND Causes.

In addition to the “AND principle”, the book describes purpose, grit, truth and discipline, keeping it simple, originality, transparency and authenticity, empathy, trust, and ownership and resourcefulness. Mr. Lubetzky openly shares failure just as much as success, making the book both a better “how-to” as well as a more interesting read. The author’s success at KIND was prefaced by a decade of struggle at his other venture, PeaceWorks. His “wilderness experience” reminded me of another famous CEO, Steve Jobs, whose experience at Next, Inc. was necessary for him to be successful on his return to Apple.

As we brainstormed about our brand name and mission, we rallied around a concept that could affirm our three anchors of health, taste, and social responsibility: being KIND to your body, KIND to your taste buds, and KIND to your world. Focusing on kindness stemmed from my belief, which I inherited from my parents, that kindness to others can build trust, and ultimately, bridges between people.

Daniel Lubetzky, reflecting on “purpose” in Do The Kind Thing, page 25.

The KIND mission is similar to the mission of a business intelligence competency center (BICC). We strive to be KIND to our business users, KIND to the IT staff that supports us, and KIND to the organization, whose mission we wish to further with actionable business intelligence. These three goals are often at odds with each other and difficult to hold together. In practice, they are frequently joined together with the word “or” instead of “and”. The AND principle isn’t an easy one, but adhering to it can inspire us to push forward to breakthrough results.

Coincidentally, Disney-Pixar recently launched a trailer for its forthcoming film, The Good Dinosaur, with the taglines “A single moment can change history” and “A single kindness can change everything”.

 

 

Do the KIND thing for your business intelligence competency center and read this inspiring book. You wouldn’t go amiss enjoying a tasty KIND bar as you read.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I borrowed a copy of this book from a public library and did not receive it free from its publisher. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Love works: seven timeless principles for effective leaders by Joel Manby

Love works, even at work.

With just a little bit of irony, I finished Joel Manby’s book, Love Works, as my plane was touching down in Orlando, Florida for the 2015 ASUG Annual Conference and SAP SAPPHIRE NOW. Joel Manby was recently hired as an outsider CEO for the beleaguered SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, also in Orlando. He began his career at General Motors, first at Saturn then rising to CEO of Saab North America. Prior to his new SeaWorld appointment, Mr. Manby was president and CEO of Herschend Family Entertainment, a theme park operator probably best known for their operation of Dollywood. And he is probably best known for his appearance on Undercover Boss. Mr. Manby writes about “seven timeless principles for effective leaders” and punctuates these principles with examples (both good and bad) from his career at General Motors and Herschend Family Entertainment. Those seven principles are being patient, kind, trusting, unselfish, truthful, forgiving, and dedicated.

Lest you think all this talk about love is an excuse to avoid the hard truths about leading an organization, let me set your mind at ease.

The bottom line is essential.

If we don’t hit our financial goals, we cannot achieve the other objectives we have… However, we achieve profits by doing the right thing for customers and employees; profits are not an end in themselves. Profits are a product of doing the right thing- over and over again.

Joel Manby in Love Works

These management philosophies put Joel Manby in the company of CEO’s like Starbucks’ Howard Schultz, who places a high priority on treating both employees and the bottom line with great respect. The world will be watching as Joel Manby brings these principles to SeaWorld. This 208-page book is easy to consume, as I did, on an average airline flight. Love Works is a must-read for leaders who want “to be the same person all the time: at work, with my family, at my church, and when I [am] alone.”

  • Purchase Love Works (hardcover edition) on Amazon.com
  • Purchase Love Works (Kindle edition) on Amazon.com

Disclosure of Material Connection: I borrowed a copy of this book from a public library and did not receive it free from its publisher. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Becoming Steve Jobs

He loved his children, but he’s still the guy that illegally parked in handicapped spaces.

Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli had front-row seats to the career of Steve Jobs. Their new biography, entitled Becoming Steve Jobs (Crown Business, 2015, ISBN 978-0385347402), combines nearly twenty-five years of their personal interview notes with some great photos and new interviews with current and former Apple employees as well as Steve Jobs’ widow Laurene Powell Jobs. Brent Schlender interviewed Steve Jobs and Bill Gates in the August 1991 edition of Fortune magazine that I still have on my bookshelf. And Rick Tetzeli has spent many years covering technology for Fast Company.

Becoming Steve Jobs by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli

A lot of the media coverage surrounding Becoming Steve Jobs implies “he wasn’t so bad,” no doubt influenced by the book’s subtitle, “The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader”.I don’t disagree that Walter Isaacson’s biography was flawed (see related Daring Fireball article, Walter Isaacson’s ‘Steve Jobs’). Much of the “growth” narrative from the “wilderness years” at Pixar and NeXT is beautifully captured in Ed Catmull’s Creativity, Inc. (see my related book review, Creativity, Inc.) and often cited by the Becoming Steve Jobs authors. Dr. Catmull also contributes to the “growth” narrative from the book’s back cover.

After working with Steve for over twenty-five years, I feel this book captures with great insight the growth and complexity of a truly extraordinary person. I hope that it will be recognized as the definitive history.

Ed Catmull, president, Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios

So we learn that Steve Jobs had close friends and loved his children, but he’s still the guy that illegally parked in handicapped spaces. As a father, I was particularly moved by the CEO trying to stay alive from incurable cancer long enough to attend his son’s graduation. As an employee, I was discouraged by a CEO who discarded strong contributors when he determined they outlived their usefulness. But Becoming Steve Jobs displaced several other interesting books on my bedside table. Its 464-page account of a one-of-a-kind Silicon Valley pioneer was impossible to put down.

What did you think about Becoming Steve Jobs?

Disclosure of Material Connection: I borrowed a copy of this book from a public library and did not receive it free from its publisher. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Winners Dream

Bill McDermott’s Winners Dream is an inspiring life story and a must-read for SAP users.

Winners Dream by SAP CEO Bill McDermott (October 2014, Simon & Schuster, ISBN 978-1-4767-6108-4) chronicles his story from a working class neighborhood in New York to the corner office of one of the world’s most respected software companies.

winner – noun – one that is successful especially through praiseworthy ability and hard work

dream – verb – to think about something that you wish would happen or something that you want to do or be

The book is biographical, chronicling the “journey from corner store to corner office,” according to the book’s subtitle. It’s an inspirational tale because Bill McDermott was not a child of privilege- he has clearly worked hard for every milestone of success in his career.

“Mr. Fullwood, I don’t think you completely understand the situation.” I pause, and then explain. “I told my father as I left him at the train station today, that I guaranteed that I would come home tonight with my employee badge in my pocket. In twenty-one years, I’ve never broken a promise to my dad, and I can’t start now.” Silence. I don’t fill it. Mr. Fullwood looks at me with his head kind of tilted, like a puppy waiting to see what I’m going to do next, but I don’t make the next move.

As an analytics professional, with “classic BusinessObjects” pedigree, I never paid much attention to who was helming SAP. I spent more time studying the analytics roadmap and the ever-changing series of mid-level executives who created it. But there’s a lot to learn from here. Although Mr. McDermott was never the CEO of Xerox, he learned first-hand that a highly successful organization that buries its head in the sand might fade into irrelevance, which explains his passion for casting clear visions (via simple memorable phrases like “on demand, on premise, on device”) and pushing SAP into new frontiers like in-memory and cloud computing. It’s all about being “consumed with what people wanted and how I could give it to them,” whether as a teen-aged deli owner, an entry-level sales rep, a mid-level manager or CEO. Those looking for dirt about the inner workings of SAP won’t find it here. Instead, you’ll find relentless optimism from a business leader with a well-developed emotional intelligence and a positive outlook on work and life.

If your career depends on using SAP software, it’s time well-spent reading to learn more about the man currently leading the company.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I borrowed a copy of this book from a public library and did not receive it free from its publisher. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”