THE LADY WITH THE CHART
Florence Nightingale was born in 1820.
At that time women weren’t allowed to go to university.
It would be a waste, their job was to marry and look after their husband and children.
But Florence Nightingale’s father thought differently.
Not being able to send her to university, he educated her at home.
First he taught her to read and write.
Then he taught her history, philosophy, Latin, Greek and, most unusually, mathematics.
Florence was an attractive young woman and had several offers of marriage.
But she didn’t accept any of them.
Instead, during the Crimean war, she took medical training.
Then she formed and trained a unit of 38 volunteer nurses.
And in 1854 she took them to the war.
What Florence Nightingale found at the military hospital horrified her.
Wounded soldiers were dying in droves.
Death in war is to be expected, but ten times more men were dying from disease than from battle wounds.
Typhus, Typhoid, Cholera, Dysentery, and Malaria killed over four thousand soldiers in her first year.
Most of it caused by defective sewers, malnutrition, overcrowding, and lack of ventilation.
As an educated woman, she decided to change things.
She came back to London to lobby Parliament.
But she knew that whatever she wrote, most MPs wouldn’t bother reading it.
It would be too long and detailed for them and their civil servants.
She was an intelligent woman.
She knew her audience.
She needed to show facts and figures, but she needed more than that.
She needed impact.
She needed communication.
She needed persuasion.
So Florence Nightingale argued her case using information graphics.
The basic Pie Chart had been invented fifty years before.
But if she hadn’t been taught mathematics she wouldn’t have known about it.
Florence Nightingale invented a new form of pie chart.
A simple, visual presentation of facts anyone could understand.
It was so powerful that it swept through Parliament like a bolt of electricity.
Brunel was briefed to design a new hospital immediately.
The staff were trained according to Florence Nightingale’s methods.
And the death rate was cut from 42% to 2%.
Thousands of men lived who otherwise would have died needlessly.
Thanks to Florence Nightingale, the Crimean war was the last war where more British soldiers died from disease than enemy action.
Mainly because she was an intelligent woman.
Mainly because she understood her audience.
Mainly because of her powerful, simple, graphic presentation of data.
It’s not enough to have to have the right statistics, the best strategy, the correct marketing.
You have to have the best way to present it.