Often, presentations and documents make complex points. It’s useful to convey these as a simple visual. It’s worthwhile to make the effort and do a simple visual for every slide or paragraph.
Once, a retail bank asked us if they should centralise their operations. They had operations distributed across branches, regional hubs, and a central hub. After 2 months of work, this was our story:
- Centralising smoothens demand
- Centralising improves productivity
- Your activities are decentralised (so you should consolidate)
- To do that effectively, you need a few more regional hubs
Centralising smoothens demand
The mathematics is simple. If you have operations in two hubs, A and B, the variance (in demand) for A and B, individually, will exceed the variance for a combined hub A+B. Therefore, you’ll have a smoother demand for the combined hub.
Var(A) + Var(B) >= Var(A+B)
But we couldn’t just say that in a slide. So we collected data about the daily volumes at three hubs, and it clearly showed the result. Var(A) + Var(B) + Var(C) > Var(A+B+C).
But it’s tough to get the message instantly from this. The main problem is, it’s not obvious how variance (a mathematical concept) relates to smoothening demand. So we showed a graph of the load, with individual hubs on the left and the combined hub on the right.
It’s very easy to see this from the graph: demand at the individual hubs varies more than at the combined hub. People would take one look at it and go, “Oh, yeah… I get it. Move on.” (Incidentally, that’s the best possible outcome for a slide. People glance at it, say “Oh yeah, that’s clear. Move on.” It’s what we dream of.)