27 October 2016

On resonance

Describing pain with numbers

Sometimes at Flowopoly workshops we have whiteboards on easels positioned around the room. Press-ganged participants have the job of placing red and green magnets on these whiteboards in a way that represents the spacing and clustering of arrivals and departures during a day in the life of a hospital.

Testing out the magnetic whiteboards at St Andrew's House, Edinburgh: 27 October 2014

The easels, the whiteboards, the magnets: they're not just gimmicks. There's a point to them, which is that one of the first things we have to do with data is describe the status quo. It's a bit like the sentence that is famously not part of the Hippocratic Oath: "First do no harm." Well, for number-crunchers the equivalent precept should be: "First describe things as they are." That's the platform for anything else we might want to do that might be more sophisticated.

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