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Another idea – this time from driving

How to Get Ideas 3

Some people get ideas while taking a walk or while in the shower. I get ideas when I'm driving.

After driving a while, I start to kind of daydream, going over in my head the events of the day or describing what I'm doing and why I'm doing it. The daydreams are typically little conversations and in those conversations, I will say or do something that turns out to be an interesting idea. This week, I had a little daydream where I'm with a bunch of people discussing why our numbers were less than planned. In my daydream, I'm giving various explanations as what I think could be going on. In the process of explaining, I start to play around with a map to explore visually what could be going on; and thus, an idea was born.

Why not try that map function in Excel and see if it leads to something?

Now, I have tried that map function before and I did not get very far. The biggest problem I had was while the map function needed the address, it didn't seem to also show the name of the place. If I have 65 places showing on the map, I needed to be able to identify the name of the place associated with a particular data on the map. So the first effort with the map didn't get very far.

But I thought, "Okay, enough time has passed. Let's see if I get further with the map tool." And I did get further - I was finally able to have both the address and the name of the place show up when I hover the cursor over a particular data. Unfortunately, when I played with the map, nothing really jumped out as to why we are not meeting the plan.

So now, I'm doing another plan of attack to see if the data tells me anything. Unfortunately, this plan of attack is very pie in the sky and maybe too big for me. Most of these "BIG" ideas don't work. I find that my most successful ideas are the small ones. My biggest successful idea actually started off small which was built up over time from the initial small idea. So I think I'm going to try to start off small and then build upon it towards my real idea.

But back to the map idea. At work, I have Excel 2016 but most of my colleagues have Excel 2013, so I need to test the map I created in 2016 on an Excel 2013. At home, I have Excel 2013 (which will be upgraded when everyone else at work upgrades to 2016). I just tested the map created by Excel 2016 on my home Excel 2013 and...it doesn't work. It looks like the Excel 2016 has evolved into a more user friendly version with much needed elements (such as showing the name of places, not just addresses) but the Excel 2013 cannot use those user friendly elements. Excel 2016 does not appear backwards usable in 2013. So I will continue to practice using the map in Excel 2016, but I won't rely on it for distribution at work. I might make a "snip it" picture if some really important data comes out of the map.

That's a bummer.

So now I will continue to pull down data and play around with it to see if something pops up. I have to say, most of the time, interesting stuffs are just not there (maybe I'm unimaginative or doing it wrong). I suspect the really cool and useful stuff lies in the "small" data that is not in the computer. The small data could be physical stuff such as something tacked up on the refrigerator or how someone arranges their shoes - something oddball. (See book Small Data by Martin Lindstrom.)

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