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Visualizing when Lower is Better

Alex Velez inverts a common experience:

When quickly scanning, I wonder why the direct and indirect sales teams underperformed in 2022. Mostly, they fell below the goal of 90 days, exceeding their target only three times. 

Now, pausing to think more critically about the context of this scenario, I realize I’ve misread the graph—specifically the goal line. Targets and goals are often seen as minimum thresholds, not maximum limits. But in the sales industry, the goal is to close a deal as quickly as possible. In this visual, below the goal line is actually a good thing!

This graph challenges my standard construct of targets and goals, which could lead to confusion or, worse, the wrong conclusions if I’m not careful. 

Read on for five alternative ways to display this graph and (hopefully) reduce confusion.