BigPicture Example Series: Investment Decisions

In the BigPicture Example Series, we’ll show you different ways you can make BigPicture work for you.  You can check out all these example files with your copy of the BigPicture software, which you can download here. Get BigPicture today and start playing with these fun and informative example models. The possibilities are limitless.

The BigPicture map below illustrates the investment decisions a company must make over multiple time periods. The purpose of such a map is to help the decision maker understand the various aspects of the problem. These include the inputs to the problem (monetary values and other inputs), the decisions involved, any uncertainties, and important outputs. Each of these is represented by a topic (an object of some color and shape), and the topics are connected logically by arrows to show what affects what.

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Normally, problems like this one are represented, and solved numerically, by Excel tools and possibly add-ins such as Palisade’s Evolver optimization add-in. However, a map like the one shown here is useful as a preliminary step to a formal analysis. It lets decision makers see the important issues in the decision problem and how they are related.

By studying the map (and using the Topic Key at the top left), the elements of the problem should be fairly clear. However, if this isn’t enough, you can Play the slide show that accompanies the map. This shows how the analysis unfolds in steps, and text boxes explain each step in some detail.

Once you create the basic map with BigPicture’s tools, you can then use Excel’s Shape tools to reshape or recolor topics or connectors.

 

 

BigPicture Example Series: Using BigPicture for oil drilling decisions

BigPicture is a useful visual tool in illustrating drilling decisions if you are an oil company.  The purpose of this map is to help the decision maker understand the various aspects of a problem.

These include the inputs to the problem (monetary values and probability distributions), the decisions involved, any uncertainties, and important outputs. Each of these is represented by a topic (an object of some color and shape), and the topics are connected logically by arrows to show what affects what.

Normally, problems like this one are represented, and solved numerically, by decision trees, which can be created with the Palisade PrecisionTree add-in. However, a map like the one shown here is useful as a preliminary step to a formal decision tree. It lets decision makers see the important issues in the decision problem and how they are related.

By studying the map (and using the Topic Key at the top left), the elements of the problem should be fairly clear. However, if this isn’t enough, you can Play the slide show that accompanies the map. This shows how the decision process unfolds through time, and text boxes to the left of the map explain each slide in some detail.

Once you create the basic map with BigPicture’s tools, you can then use Excel’s Shape tools to reshape or recolor topics or connectors. For example, the Yes/No connectors in this map have been coloured dark red.

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For more information on BigPicture, or to download a copy visit our website.

BigPicture Example Series: Adding pictures to topics

In the BigPicture Example Series, we’ll show you different ways you can make BigPicture work for you.  You can check out all these example files with your copy of the BigPicture software, which you can download here. Get BigPicture today and start playing with these fun and informative example models. The possibilities are limitless.

BigPicture is an excellent tool for adding pictures to topics – pictures can add just the right personal touch to any data map or org chart.  Below are three ways to add pictures in BigPicture.

Add a picture inside a topic:

You can add a picture inside a topic via the Topic pane or via the BigPicture pop-up menu. Click on the Topic button in the View section of the BigPicture ribbon to display the Topic pane to the right of your workbook. Then click on the desired topic in the map to select it. Click on the Picture option in the Topic pane and click in the Include Picture checkbox. (Alternatively, you can right click on a topic and Add Picture.) After the default BigPicture image has appeared in the topic, right click on the image and chose Change Picture. Note: After a picture has been added to a topic you can change its properties via the Topic Pane.

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Add a Picture as a Marker on the Outside of a Topic:

Markers are smaller pictures that are displayed just outside the Topic. Markers are selected from lists of related markers, like Countries, Numbers, or Progress. BigPicture comes with a set of pre-defined markers you can use. To access these pre-defined markers, click on the Topic button in the View section of the BigPicture ribbon to display the Topic pane. Then click on the desired topic in the map to select it. Click on the Markers option in the Topic pane. Next to the desired marker list, click in the Marker column and use the dropdown list to select a marker. (Alternatively, you can right click a topic and select Markers from the BigPicture pop-up menu to see the available marker lists and markers you can add.) In this example we chose 2 markers from the Smiley category.

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Add a Picture to Represent a Topic:

To give a little more whimsical look and feel to your Topics, you can make the Topic appear as an image itself vs. an image within the Topic. Right click and choose the Excel “Fill” option (Format Shape > Picture or Texture Fill option in Excel 2010). Then browse for a picture that you would like to use. Note: In Excel 2013 there is also an option to search the internet for royalty free images.

 

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For more information on BigPicture visit our website.

 

 

 

 

BigPicture Example Series: Data Map of Power Generation in the Midwest

In the BigPicture Example Series, we’ll show you different ways you can make BigPicture work for you.  You can check out all these example files with your copy of the BigPicture software, which you can download here. Get BigPicture today and start playing with these fun and informative example models. The possibilities are limitless.

BigPicture is an excellent tool for generating a Data Map from a set of example data. For example: check out this  data set of major electric power plants in four states in the US Midwest:

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A Data Map is created by grouping values in selected columns in a data set. In this example, grouping is made by State and Primary Energy Source. The map includes a topic for each state, with subsequent child topics following each state representing the possible Primary Energy Source values in that state. In BigPicture, these parent and child topics are called “Grouped Topics”.

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A set of end topics will follow the grouped topics for each State and Primary Energy Source. These end topics represent those electric power plants that have the same State and Primary Energy Source values. You can select the data you want to include for each end topic. In this example we’ll display Plant name, Operating Company name and the value for Capacity (MW).

In a Data Map, end topics are usually displayed in End Tables, instead of in actual map topics. By using tables, the number of topics required for a map is minimized, while still allowing the graphical display of the data. However, if desired, you can create an individual topic in the map for each end topic, resulting in a larger map with more connectors and topics.

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The capacity value for each plant can be subtotalled up through the grouped topics that precede it. For example, the grouped topic for the state Illinois will show the total Capacity for all plants in Illinois. These values are “live”, so if you change a capacity value in the data set , the map values will recalculate.

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Markers and pictures can be added to enhance the map. For this map, BigPicture adde a company logo to each plant’s entry by matching a picture file from the Photos folder to the listed company name. A hyperlink was also added to the table to provide a link to a web location that has additional information on each plant. BigPicture reads this hyperlink from the Detailed Description column of the data set and displays the Hyperlink in each plant’s entry in the End Table. Illustrative pictures are also added to grouped topics to highlight each State and Primary Energy Source.

 

Check out the full example model in BigPicture’s ‘Example Spreadsheets’ section under the Help menu:

 

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BigPicture Example Series: Where to Start a Business

In the BigPicture Example Series, we’ll show you different ways you can make BigPicture work for you.  You can check out all these example files with your copy of the BigPicture software, which you can download here. Get BigPicture today and start playing with these fun and informative example models. The possibilities are limitless.

 

This example is based on the Harvard Business Review case study “Where to Launch in Africa.” In the case, a young executive is trying to decide where to open a new packaging manufacturing business in Africa. The entrepreneur is originally from the small country of Malawi, but has been living and working in Kenya for years. He must weigh many competing factors, both economic and personal, in deciding where to start his new company. How large is each potential market? How much help and support can he get? What will his cost structure look like? What are the political risks? Are there barriers to expansion? How competitive is each market? What will his lifestyle look like?

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It can be very difficult to understand and analyze a decision such as this, especially with so many qualitative considerations and personal preferences.

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BigPicture enables you to visually organize the issues at stake and navigate through the options logically. Features such as color-coded topics, visual markers and icons, and expandable/collapsible topics allow a decision-maker to categorize, understand, and communicate the issues. This example also uses hyperlinks to web resources the entrepreneur might be using for each country being considered.

 

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Check out the full example model in BigPicture’s ‘Example Spreadsheets’ section under the Help menu:

 

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BigPicture Example Series: Strategic Planning for New Drug Development

In the BigPicture Example Series, we’ll show you different ways you can make BigPicture work for you.  You can check out all these example files with your copy of the BigPicture software, which you can download here. Get BigPicture today and start playing with these fun and informative example models. The possibilities are limitless.

In the Harvard Business Review case study Bet on One Big Idea — or Diversify?” , the fictional big pharma company Caliska faces an important decision on whether to continue research on a promising new probiotic drug, L-39. The drug has had somewhat disappointing results so far in clinical trials, and there has even been some evidence of safety issues. However, Caliska’s strong research team believes that with further development, the drug can be made more effective and safe, and that it has the potential to be a breakthrough drug for the company, as well as for patients suffering from the gastrointestinal ailment called Crohn’s disease. The alternative is to make a quick profit by marketing L-39 as a dietary supplement (a nutraceutical), a decision strongly opposed by the research team but with some support by the CEO.

In this example, a map was created in BigPicture to graphically summarize the issues, risks, and arguments presented by the executives and researchers in the case study. The map first lists some facts:

 

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Then the two alternatives are listed, along with positive (green) and negative (red) consequences:

 

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Finally, criteria important to the company are listed to the right, as they relate to the consequences of the decisions. The goal is to provide a summary map that can be used to review and discuss the possible options and come to a consensus decision in a strategic planning environment:

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The map illustrates the benefits of using BigPicture to visually summarize complex set of relationships and issues in a diagram. When a diagram is used, people are more likely to understand those relationships, analyze them, and remember them. People tend to be more engaged when working with a diagram, and remember its concepts better:

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Check out the full example model in BigPicture’s ‘Example Spreadsheets’ section under the Help menu:

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BigPicture Example Series: Strategic Planning for Business Acquisitions

In the BigPicture Example Series, we’ll show you different ways you can make BigPicture work for you.  You can check out all these example files with your copy of the BigPicture software, which you can download here. Get BigPicture today and start playing with these fun and informative example models. The possibilities are limitless!

In the Harvard Business Review case study Learning to Play in the New Share Economy” (July-August 2013), a fictional company Beacon Car Rental has recently acquired a car-sharing company VillageCar. The executives of the company are struggling with the strategy to use for integrating the acquired company into Beacon’s operations. Beacon is an established car rental company and VillageCar is a fast-growing start-up using a new car sharing model.

In this example, BigPicture is used to summarize the issues, risks, and arguments presented by the different executives in the case study. Three different integration options are shown in the map, with topics highlighting the pros and cons associated with each possible strategy.

 

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The goal is to provide a summary map that can be used to review and discuss the possible options and come to a consensus decision in a strategic planning environment.

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The map illustrates the benefits of using BigPicture to visually summarize complex set of relationships and issues in a diagram. When a diagram is used, people are more likely to understand those relationships, analyze them, and remember them. We’re more engaged when working with a diagram, and remember its concepts better.

Check out the full example model in BigPicture’s ‘Example Spreadsheets’ section under the Help menu:

 

 

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