I remember being fascinated by speed reading. If you grew up in the United States in the 60s and 70s you will remember the TV spots for the Evelyn Wood Speed Reading Dynamics course, which many of us just remember as “Evelyn Wood.” The simple idea was take this course and “double your reading speed—guaranteed!” Incidentally, the business still exists. Reading was my thing when I was a kid so the prospect of doing it faster intrigued me. No World Wide Web back then; I sent away for materials.

The human eyes moves ballistically, in short, sharp muscle contractions from one fixation point to another called saccades (I learned this much later in life). The jumpy nature of those movements—startstop, bounce ahead, go back, startstop, etc.—is what makes your eyes hurt after a long session with a book (not to mention the headaches you get from learning concepts such as “saccade”).

It’s kind of like walking my dog Archie: He stops, sniffs, circles, bounds ahead, stops again, does his business, startsstopsstarts again. If I want to move more intentionally, I shorten up the leash and physically drag him down the street.

Speed reading is like that. The Evelyn Wood pamphlets, as I recall, described a process of using your finger as a kind of leash to drag your eye down the page. You extend the length of each saccade to minimize the number of stops. Or something like that. This is what speed reading–and late night TV– looked like back in the 70s . Go 1:13 in.

Many have wondered, does speed reading work? A recent article in the New York Times, Sorry.  You Can’t Speed Read, calls its efficacy into question. One particular passage caught my eye (sorry):

A deeper problem, however is that the big bottleneck in reading isn’t perception (seeing the words) but language processing (assembling strings of words into meanings)….As in all forms of human behavior, there is a trade-off, in reading, between speed and accuracy.

That’s right.  Our brain is the bottleneck. Even with reading, no matter how fast we make a process, such as taking your eyes for a speed walk down a page of text, we are often the slowest step in any real system. Around the office, we call this the problem of human latency. That’s the crux of the problem we set out to solve, specifically in how we use data and analysis to make decisions.

The Trefis Interactive Experience transforms complex, static analyses-such as Excel-based data models-into easy-to-use, visual interactive experiences that let you develop “what-if” scenarios, assess the risk and reward of any decision, and engage stakeholders in meaningful discussions on the assumptions that matter most. Most importantly, it lets do all of that in real-time. No delay. No need to reschedule. There is no trade off between speed and accuracy.  One of our customers explains:

When a group of executives get together, they want to make decisions, not just raise issues and reconvene later. In a Trefis-enabled meeting the Trefis Interactive Experience is up on the screen. Everyone sees the same assumptions. They can drag the growth trend line up two points and the whole group sees the impact, in real time. Decisions can be made right there. 

We invite you to explore Trefis Solutions.