Maximising your Rate of Gain of Information

24. 04. 19 John Chapman

The Paradox of Choice

In the book “The Paradox of Choice – Why more is less” Barry Schartz says:

Autonomy and Freedom of choice are critical to our well-being, and choice is critical to freedom and autonomy. Nonetheless, though modern Americans have more choice than any group of people ever has before, and thus, presumably, more freedom and autonomy, we don't seem to be benefiting from it psychologically.

A subsequent study identified four key factors that affect the impact of assortment size on choice overload:

Choice set complexity

decision task difficulty

preference uncertainty

decision goal

Business Intelligence Reporting

The purpose of modelling data is to provide meaningful analysis from which effective decisions can be taken. Software tools such as Birst and PowerBI have multiple ways to visualise data. A review of the PowerBi web page will give you 25 different options for presenting your data:

1.Area charts: Basic (Layered) and Stacked

2.Bar and column charts

3.Cards: Single Number

4.Cards: Multi-Row

5.Combo Charts

6.Doughnut Charts

7.Funnel Charts

8.Gauge Charts

9.Key Influencers Chart


11.Line Charts

12.Maps: Basic Maps


13.Maps: ArcGIS Maps

14.Maps: Filled maps (Chloropleth)

15.Maps: Shape Maps


17.Pie Charts

18.Ribbon Chart

19.Scatter, Bubble, and Dot Plot Charts

20.Scatter – High Density


22.Standalone Images


24.Tree Maps

25.Waterfall Charts

Hick-Hyman Law

Hick's law, or the Hick–Hyman law, named after British and American psychologists William Edmund Hick and Ray Hyman, describes the time it takes for a person to make a decision as a result of the possible choices he or she has: increasing the number of choices will increase the decision time logarithmically.

The Hick–Hyman law assesses cognitive information capacity in choice reaction experiments. The amount of time taken to process a certain amount of bits of information under the Hick–Hyman law is known as the rate of gain of information.

Which report?

Your project has started. Enthusiasm is high. Finally, some meaningful information will be available. Those disparate databases, information feeds, web analytics are to be made sense of. Yet which one do we choose? There are 25 options. Should we try them all, one at a time?

Directors and Managers have limited time available. Their objective is to maximise the ‘rate of gain of information’.

For customers of TouchstoneBI, there is an easy answer; our consultants are experienced in analytics and data modelling. It is their expertise, proficiency, knowledge and knowhow that will recommend the most appropriate method of visualising data. They will assess the requirement based on the four factors (noted earlier) of

  • choice set complexity,
  • decision task difficulty,
  • preference uncertainty,
  • decision goal

that moderate the impact of assortment size on choice overload, and be able to recommend the most appropriate visualisation tool or tools for your business.


To avoid suffering from stress induced by the Paradox of Choice and spend more time than necessary evaluating options, call TouchstoneBI. They will maximise your ‘rate of gain of information’.

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John Chapman

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John Chapman