Reflections on Dashboard Week - making quick decisions with insufficient data

by David Sánchez
Andy repeatedly hitting DS7ers during Dashboard Week

Come on, Andy, is that everything you got?
*Darth Kriebel is trademarked by George


Dashboard week

What a week! Dashboard week has quite a reputation within the DataSchool and it lived up to the expectations. It was lots of fun. Yes, sometimes a bit intensive, as we tackled a new project each day–challenging enough to be exciting but not so difficult to be overwhelmed. But so much fun!

The 5 stages of Dashboard week

During the first hour of almost every day, while we started to explore the data, we went through the 5 stages of Dashboard week:

  1. Denial and isolation – “This cannot be happening, there is no way this is happening” (*first day that was the whole thought, subsequent days the thought persisted, only with the added “…again”).
  2. Anger – aimed at different people/objects: from the one suggesting the topic (I’m not thinking of any French guy in particular here), to the Alteryx workflow not doing what our minds were telling it to do.
  3. Bargaining – If only I had practiced more what Catherine taught us; If only!
  4. Depression – At this point, the only thing we wanted was a boiling kettle (or a cup of coffee) to have while mourning.
  5. Acceptance – gradually, at different speeds on different days, we eventually accepted that the task at hand was real, and it was going to be up to us to do it.


I have really enjoyed this week: moving a bit out of the comfort zone, but still in a friendly environment. Some of my take-away points:

  1. Feel comfortable being uncomfortable: accept that your final output is not going to match your expectations for other projects when you have plenty of time and resources. This is something I feel quite a few of us struggle with.
  1. Accept “failure”: Second day. I hit a mental block and lack of inspiration for most part of the morning. After input from other people in the room, I had an idea of what I wanted to build. So, I started to build it. Fast forward a few hours: the idea was not compatible with the outlined requirements for the project. I faced two options: admit defeat and go back to start, or admit defeat and go forward. I went with the latter, experimenting with new approaches that somehow resemble the original requirements. And was way more fun (even as I realize I was only able to do that because of Andy’s flexibility).
  2. Experiment with new things and ideas: I feel I have learned a lot in these few days about how Tableau works (cannot understand how it has taken me more than 2 months to use my first GIF in a dashboard!*), lateral thinking (that I usually struggle with), my first floating dashboard …
Floating hearts

In case you were wondering. This is the first GIF I have ever embedded in a dashboard. Unsuccessfully trying to distract Andy.


  1. The importance of spending some time away from the project – and how I don’t entirely like the format of one project per day:
    1. You start tackling the project in the morning, while you are fresh (which is good).
    2. You end up polishing the views the last thing in the afternoon, while you are tired (at least I was) and more prone to making mistakes (which is bad).
    3. Quite often I have had ideas once I spent some hours without thinking on the project. But, by then, it was too late and with little time to implement (except a couple last minute additions added just before the presentations) (which is bad).
    4. This makes 2 bads and one good. An alternative that, should we have another dashboard week, I would like to try is to allocate the same time per project, but offsetting the start/end. i.e. presentations before lunch, start new project after lunch, thus building into the schedule time away from the project.


These are the results of Dashboard Week:

  1. Where should you move in the US to experience the worst living conditions? How many people live in that situation?
  2. Where should you go to maximize your opportunities of being considered attractive?
  3. Who are the most succinct and verbose of DSers? What are the implications of that? (internal use only).
  4. What cheese should you choose by “name” or “character” – literally?
  5. Who fell to the pull of the Dark Side of the Force?



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