Good grief – not ANOTHER three circle Venn diagram!

I can’t be the only one who cringes when they see another three circle Venn diagram.  You know the thing: overlapping circles for User, Business, and Information, or for Strength , Cardio, and Flexibility.

Why not just say “there are three important considerations, User, Business, and Information, and they are interrelated”?  But no, we feel obliged to use a Venn diagram.

Venn 3

Does this kind of diagram really tell us anything more?  Does the overlap of User, Business and Information mean some kind of “sweet spot” where everyone is delighted?  If so, it doesn’t say much for the other areas.  And are there really any cases where Information is not informed by User considerations?  And so on.

I have long respected a cartoon demonstrating “Be simple but not too simple”.  I wish I could find the source to give it credit, as it has been a mental companion for many years.  “Being simple” was illustrated by a diaper fastened with a safety pin.  “Being too simple” was illustrated by a diaper fastened with a straight pin.  Hahaha.

Being too simple is wrong.  The three circle Venn diagrams I am complaining about are wrong.  What is the universe?  For a good Venn diagram, a universe is implied and then subsetted by the circles.  The universe of Warm Blooded Creatures has subsets Featherless and Bipeds (we live in the intersection). What is the universe for User, Business and Information? Hard to say, but something very abstract like The Space of All Considerations In Solutions Design.

And why three circles?  Because three is easy.  Venn and others wanted to extend Venn diagrams to more sets and the Wikipedia entry for Venn diagrams shows elegant and complex extensions.  Fascinating, but they would be really scary in a blog post or book.

So yes, I personally cringe.  I am not sure whether it is because I mainly dislike the Intellectual Laziness, the Lack of Insight Provided, or the Uncritical Acceptance of This Diagram.  Perhaps I should draw a Venn diagram to help me!

Good designing.