Genius Steals

I always chuckle appreciatively when I see good, creative work that recalls Oscar Wilde’s defiant “Talent borrows; genius steals.”

Here’s an example. I loved this table displaying patient satisfaction survey results by hospital floor compared with national benchmarks; it was presented in a graphic that a client showed us (and that I’ve recreated below). The combination of a type of deviation graph (black bar) and a modified ranked bar chart (each floor’s figure) makes it easy to compare results.



Clever, effective-and familiar. I’d seen that combination somewhere. To my bookshelf! In a few minutes, there it was, on page 180 of Edward Tufte’s classic The Visual Display of Quantitative Information.

Source: The New York Times (2 January 1979, D3)
Source: The New York Times (2 January 1979, D3)

One need feel no shame in using great examples, modifying them to suit the data — indeed, I strongly encourage and applaud the practice. Open a book, surf the ‘net; there’s great work out there waiting to help illustrate both your talent and your genius. We need to communicate important data in clear and compelling ways if we want to improve our healthcare systems. GO FOR IT!

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