Secondary Issues

When I trail run with my wonder dog, we occasionally encounter thunder and lightning storms, such as the one building in the background of the above photo. The storm arrived twenty minutes after this picture as we began our descent back towards the trailhead. My mountain canine is not a fan of thunder, and her allegiance to me is quickly tested when it rumbles across the mountains. She considers her option of heading directly back to the car, leaving me to navigate on my own. She always stays close, but I can see the panic in her thought process. No matter my words of assurance, she is fixated on the noise. I, however, spend time evaluating the proximity of the lightning. I am well aware that lightning is the primary threat to our well-being. When we stopped in a dense section of forest to allow the lightning to move out of our location, my running companion thinks it is a poor choice because the noise is still audible.

How might we confirm that we are focused on the right challenges and opportunities? The loudest noise might not be the best area for our focus.

Are The Odds In Your Favor?

I was hiking in the Hemingway Wilderness Area of Idaho a few days ago, and I came to the first trail junction just five minutes from the trailhead. The primary intersection is unmarked, and the decision point is crucial if one wants to head towards the proper drainage and the adventure they planned. For years a signpost existed here, and somebody or something removed it. Now the lack of clarity creates a moment of anxiety for those who have not previously traveled this route. There are signs further up both trails to direct users to the appropriate peak or alpine lake. 

We might think we have set up our fans for success, but sometimes we are so busy marking the summit and iconic features that we forget to check on the trailhead. We overlook the first few steps because they are so apparent to us. How might we learn from those encountering us for the first time? How might their experience help us be better wayfinders?

Crossing Obstacles

If those who go before reduce the number of barriers, those who follow are likely to continue on the route. From clearing a path to leaving key insights or providing context, the journey can be enhanced by those who show care and concern. That said, we might be selective about which obstacles we remove, as some are necessary for the path to be remarkable.

Abandoned or Well-Used

What is the difference between abandoned and well-used? It isn’t easy to decipher if an object represents a previous generation’s work or a real-time activity. If we embrace an empathetic mindset towards the end-user we serve, we might help orient those who encounter our work. Abandoned and well-used tokens both have stories; the question is how we provide context for the narrative.


Without context, pie charts, bar graphs, scatterplots, histograms, and gauge charts are more like artwork than representative of data that informs their creation. The challenge to us is to present the graphs with accessible context. There is a story within each, an opportunity to take the viewer on a journey. How might we employ graphs to support our efforts and avoid confusing those looking for meaning?