Press "Enter" to skip to content

The Problem with Tornado Graphs

Rita Fainshtein takes a beloved chart and gives it the beating it rightfully deserves:

In the picture above, you can see the execution of the budget on the right (blue), and the budget amount on the left (orange).

This interesting and special graph can be perfectly integrated into any business dashboard.

But does it let you know where the company stands in relation to its budget?

No, it is not. An optimistic view would be challenging, if not misleading.

Click through for more info and alternative ways of displaying this. In fairness, the area where I like seeing tornado charts is a categorical comparison, not a time series comparison, of two things. For example, during a head-to-head matchup in a sporting event, a tornado chart showing relevant stats about each side (or a star player on each side) tends to work reasonably well. Yeah, there are still clearer ways of showing the results in that case, but these have a soft spot in my heart for that specific use case.