A data guru. A Jedi Master of data visualisation. An edutainer. A statistician.

These are all different ways Hans Rosling has been described. Sadly, Hans Rosling passed away on 7th February 2017. His legacy across multiple disciplines – design, statistics, public speaking and education – will live on for many years to come.

The scale of his influence is represented by the fact that when we asked leading industry practitioners about what we can learn from him we are able to gain perspectives from across the globe – UK, Australia and Canada. Thanks for everything Hans, here’s how the world of market research will remember you.

His greatest skill was the inclusivity of his presentations. All too often in research, agencies dress their analysis up as something only they can understand or hide behind so called black-box techniques. When these predictions turn out wrong, the industry as a whole suffers. Rosling took the opposite approach, democratising his data, making it as accessible as possible, letting the facts speak for themselves. The difference is marked, his audiences bought into what he said because his data had convinced them, not because of his claimed expert status. Generating this level of inclusivity is more important now than ever as our industry faces a backlash over polling accuracy and even prominent politicians openly reject the role of experts in part due to a perceived divide between ‘them and us’.
Chris Warren, Director of Quantitative Research, Kubi Kalloo

Professor Hans Rosling was a master at bringing statistics on global development to life. It was terribly necessary work. He showed that development policy makers and Davos attendees (who should have been experts) weren’t just ignorant about the state of the world, they had a biased blinkered view. I despair that even business school graduates hold the same prejudiced view. Of all people they should be aware how free trade and market economies have alleviated poverty.  We all owe it to Professor Rosling, for the sake of the world, to continue his work in promoting evidence over ideology.”

Professor Byron Sharp, Director, Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science

Earlier this week, my better half and I intently watched an entire Hans Roslings TED talk. We chuckled, pointed at the screen, and copied his spirited hand motions and eager facial expressions. My spouse, who’s an artist not a researcher, was thoroughly engrossed with the way Hans parsed the data, extended simple examples into complex theories, and did all of it with so much excitement. Hans easily dove into data and gave it so much character and life that even non-geeks would sit up and take notice. Connecting people with data simply needs enthusiasm and story telling. Lesson learned. Thank you, Hans.

Annie Pettit, PhD FMRIA

Image courtesy of Flickr

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