The Hierarchy of Visual Understanding

From The Dashboard Spy. We business intelligence dashboard practitioners and project sponsors often hear (and use) the phrase “from data to knowledge” when evangelizing the business intelligence projects we undertake.

Take a look at this diagram called the Hierachy of Visual Understanding:

The Hierarchy of Understanding

David McCandless over at presents this “thinkpiece”. See Data, Information, Knowledge, Wisdom. Visit the blog post. He’s looking for thoughtful commentary on that diagram. I think the discussion will benefit from contributions from Business Intelligence experts.

The top of the pyramid is interesting. The move from “Knowledge” to “Wisdom” is seldom addressed in organizations. Is it possible? Can business intelligence dashboards play a role in that transition?


Hubert Lee
The Dashboard Spy

3 thoughts on “The Hierarchy of Visual Understanding

  1. I’ve been pondering your illustration. Not sure that the label Wisdom works for me but it does suggest to me models or theories that hold true with new data, information, knowleddge. The ascending org also suggests to me increased application or implementation. What place might measures or indicators to evaluate org at each level have in the model? Similarly, I believe in reflection as a learning strategy at all levels. would like to see reflection integrated in some way. thank you for sharing.

  2. Here is my hierarchy from the bottom up: There is data (bulk, unrefined, then filtered and refined). Insight is the ability to determine which data is most relevant/significant. Wisdom is determining the best end and most sure means of getting to that end.

  3. Have to agree with Diane…before reaching Wisdom, there must be a level of understanding. Building understanding comes from application of knowledge and information. With understanding, sometimes wisdom emerges. While Insight would connote a level of wisdom, it may be more appropriate for the top of the pyramid.

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