Data Viz Done Right

October 8, 2010

ATUG Project - Rapid-fire BI in Action

At the last Atlanta Tableau User Group (ATUG) meeting we had everyone participate in a team project we called "We Hate to Fly and it Shows!" We broke everyone into groups of 5 (counted off randomly so they'd have to work with people they don't know, the whole networking thing), gave them 30 minutes (they took 45) and told them: "Here is a data set. Go build a dashboard."

The primary purposes of the team exercise were:
  1. Introduce new or prospective users to Tableau
  2. Prove that you can indeed build a dashboard incredibly quickly with Tableau (as Tableau professes)even though it's unfamiliar data
  3. Demonstrate the ability to find insights very rapidly
  4. Increase the capabilities of the user group. Each group presented their dashboard and feedback was provided.
  5. Learn tips and tricks
Here is an example of a dashboard built by the team led by Deborah Chan of Rubicon. I took the liberty of resizing it so that it could be published on Tableau Public.

While this isn't a perfect dashboard, you can clearly see how much detail and quality you can build into a dashboard in just minutes with Tableau. I think this is an excellent design given the very limited amount of time.

Some of the features built into this dashboard include:
+ Filtering by airport using the drop down
+ Using the map as an action filter
+ Airports on the map are sized by the average arrival delay and colored by the % of arrivals delayed
+ Stacked bar charts to show the proportion of each type of delay to the total
You can download the workbook here.

This exercise/group activity was such a hit that the group request we do it again in our November 11th meeting. Of course, they want more time so they can really impress everyone.

I'm not going to provide the data ahead of time...I have something interesting in mind.


  1. Hi Andy
    What a great idea - I think we'll use that for a future UK user group.

    One question about the way you ran the group: each group presumably had only one laptop/PC. So how did people cope with just one person being able to drive? I find Tableau is easiest to use when I'm semi-randomly dragging and clicking things around, in order to get a feel for the data. If a group of 4 people are watching one person play around, did it create any difficulty?


  2. Hi Andy.

    First let me tell you that the group literally asks to do hands on work in Tableau. They all want to learn and absorb, so even when someone is giving a presentation/demo we provide them with the data and have them follow along.

    As for the group exercise, we did have one PC per group and there were no problems at all with one person driving. What I suggested to them was to first ask themselves a question about the data and then work in Tableau together to answer the question. I walked around to each group and provided guidance & suggestions. In the end, it turned out very well...good enough that they want to do it again.