Knock on wood. Throw salt. Dodge iron. Beware of the cat. Mind ladder... and gap. Everything you wanted to know about superstition and Business Intelligence.


This post is not about Triskaidekaphobia (*).

It does talk about the idea of

Superstition - and Business Intelligence

According to WikiPedia, superstition is closely linked to cultural, religious, political and/or psychological background. And superstition, like new KPI's and spring mushrooms, can pop up in Business Intelligence.

Some examples:

  • One of our US customers does not like using more than 12 bars in a bar chart,
    as he worries about the person or area represented on number 13
  • Black a s a color on a color graph seems to be hugely underrepresented, green and red taking the obvious lead.
  • People may decide to hide numbers on a presentation, if one of these would be 13.

The rationale, you ask?

"I am not superstitious. But the next person might be.
They might take offence. Or chose to ingnore my message.
So why take a chance?

Similar thoughts may run about labeling groups of people:
as certain style may work well only work for certain ethnic groups, but less so for others.

Example: most corporate graphs read left to right, whereas most of the people on the planet read right to left

With Business Intelligence, we want to communicate strong messages.
We want to move people. 

We may even want them to change or adapt behaviour.
In order to achieve this, we need to be strong in communication.

So here is the real question:

if you want to communicate a strong message, should you take into account potential cultural, ethnic, political, religious or psychological preferences?

Should you take into account superstition?

Happy Friday 13 (**)


(*) as with every Friday 13, there should be plenty of those around today

(**) As it means bad luck, I myself am not superstitious - knock on wood