So I woke up today around 6:45AM (and it’s still bright in the mornings here in Finland) and quickly checked the news while drinking my morning coffee. Nothing out of the ordinary, except one thing. Michael Cembalest, CIO of JP Morgan, has released a report, in which he explains the current euro crisis with Lego figures (this is also covered by the brilliant Felix Salmon in his blog).
And here’s the picture portraying the EU countries as Lego figures:
Looks cool and absurd, right? Well, according to Cembalest, that was one of the key points: to illustrate the absurd situation in Europe at the moment.
While I completely agree with Mr. Cembalest, from my research point of view this is a perfect example of how you can visualize complex matters by using different symbols (Lego figures representing different countries) and relations (arrows illustrating the connections different countries have to each other).
A little side step here. I believe that things are made clear in three stages:
- You can explain the thing to yourself in your mind (i.e. it makes sense to you)
- You can explain the issue verbally to someone else and they also understand it (in one way or another)
- Based on the two stages above, the matter at hand can be visualized so that it makes sense not only faster but it is also contextualized.
So what Mr. Cembalest has done in his report is that he has captured the absurd nature of the euro crisis by visualizing it with Lego figures. While using Lego figures is still regarded as childish (although there are many adult Lego enthusiasts), my guess is that similar ways of representing knowledge will become more popular and utilized in corporate settings.