In dead bird vs. flow chart, bird wins

So many BI flow charts resemble the view out my hotel window in Las Vegas on the rooftop just below: a tangle of ducts, pipes, platforms, valves, and big metal boxes. What got my attention was a bird that had landed on a metal box and died.

Mark Madsen might have appreciated that bird. He’s the only one in the industry I can think of who’s able to grip an audience. In his presentations, you’re more likely to see Big Bird than dead abstractions. (Too bad he had to cancel his Night School session at TDWI on recommendation technology, “Books, Movies and BI.”)

Last year in Las Vegas, Bob Paladino woke up an audience with a story about Southwest Airlines. Dave Wells, Steve Dine, Steve Hoberman and others routinely tell stories to liven things up and make points that stick.

When speakers lose control of their message, only one point comes across: a speaker’s personal charm, knowledge and passion does not easily translate to the stage. Many in the audience, bored by slide after tedious slide, remember to check email on Blackberries or they simply glaze over.

Then you’re grateful for the suspense of a blinking Fresnel light: will it or won’t it burn out?

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