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Business Dashboards and Communication

by Hrvoje Smolic, Owner/Partner, Qualia d.o.o.Friday, October 4, 2013

Hrvoje Smolic, owner and managing director at Qualia d.o.o., discusses how the four maxims people use when speaking, as described by English Scholar Paul Grice, can be applied to business dashboards.

Philosophy of language

Paul Grice was a famous English scholar, best known for his innovative work in philosophy of language, linguistics and artificial intelligence. Grice’s concept of speaker’s meaning was an ingenious refinement of the crude idea that communication is a matter of intentionally affecting another person’s psychological states. He discovered that there is a distinctive, rational means by which the effect is achieved: by way of getting one’s audience to recognize one’s intention to achieve it.

He noted that all conversations follow a basic set of rules, which people use to express themselves when speaking. The four basic rules, also known as Maxims are those of Quality, Quantity, Relevance and Manner.

Maxim of Quality

The first rule – the information you communicate have to be true; don’t communicate anything for which you lack adequate evidence.

Maxim of Quantity

When communicating, you are expected to provide just enough information to get their point across. Do not make your contribution more informative than is required.

Maxim of Relation

According to this rule, you are expected to stay on the topic. In short, to be relevant.

Maxim of Manner

What you communicate should be direct, clear, and to the point. Avoid obscurity of expression, ambiguity and be brief.

Connection with dashboards

What is very interesting is the fact that all these rules can be applied to business dashboard design, because they are indeed a mean of communication. They communicate numbers in tables, charts or other symbols to company’s managers or executives on all level. Grice’s rules are very important because if you follow them, you will be explicitly clear and direct, just what you need to be when designing a dashboard.

So, as conclusion, if you want to design high quality dashboard with just as much information as needed, a dashboard that is relevant, concise, brief, direct and clear, just be aware of Grice’s four Maxims and incorporate them in your work.

Article originally posted on Qualia.

About the author

Hrvoje Smolić is the Owner and Managing Director at Qualia d.o.o. He is responsible for all parts of the planning and development strategies, as well as for continually improving processes to fulfill the mission. As Creative Director he develops and oversees the overall look of applications, using design principles to organize their content and ensure full user-application communication. He defines their structure, information design and interface.
Before founding Qualia, Hrvoje had seven years of experience in the IT community. He began his career developing commercial applications for the banks, with client-server programming and relational database modeling in the role of business analyst in the company Vestigo. Later, as employee at Adacta he started as a consultant for Business Intelligence (BI), and then moved to position as Head of BI and CRM team, BI project manager and as a product manager. He has a degree in Physics from Zagreb University and is currently on PhD.

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