For a while now, I’ve been meaning to get out of the Data School bubble and visit our European teams, meet customers, and run Makeover Monday Live sessions. Last week I headed to Amsterdam to visit The Information Lab Netherlands on my first of several upcoming trips.

The session was hosted by ANWB a company unknown to me. I did a bit of company research ahead of the meeting. According to wikipedia:

The Royal Dutch Touring Club (Dutch, Algemene Nederlandse Wielrijdersbond or ANWB) is a travelers’ association in the Netherlands, supporting all modes of travel. It’s responsible for traffic signs and signage on roads and trails. It also offers test reports, travel services and roadside assistance.

They remind me of AAA in the USA, but more diversified and also representing all modes of transport.

Martijn Verstrepen was generous enough to create the data set for the week: Dutch car registrations. There were 25 people in the session, organized into teams of five, with each team of five containing at least one experienced Tableau user. This type of setup works great because it exposes new users to Tableau in a fun, non-corporate type of environment. It allows people to “play” with Tableau without having to think about the day-to-day data they are exposed to. In the end, this frees them up to be more creative.

Rik van Schaik, founder of TIL NL, kicked the session off with an introduction to our company and a quick run through of the agenda for the day.


Martijn then gave a demo of Tableau in Dutch, exposing them to the data set being used for the session and also showing them the basics of Tableau.


Excited and ready to go, the teams work together for 60 minutes. Cranking through lots of hand drawings, exploring the data, looking for stories, and eventually (with a bit of prodding from your’s truly) focusing on a single idea. It’s very common for new users to want to use ALL of the data. I constantly urged them to simplify, write down the question(s) they wanted to answer and make that the focus of their analysis.

60 minutes went by really quickly and it was time for the teams to each present their work. I gave feedback to each team after they presented, taking them through what worked and what didn’t.

At the end I had to pick the winning team, who were rewarded with really cool medals.

I ended up choosing the viz you see above as the winner. Why did I pick this one? You see, they all presented in Dutch. I don’t speak Dutch. And their viz and presentation still totally made sense. Basically if you can explain it well in a language people don’t understand and they still are able to understand the viz, then you communicated it really well.

I’d like to thank the team at ANWB for welcoming me, for having so much fun, and for being so excited about Tableau. I can’t wait to do it again!

If you’re near Paris, come to our next Makeover Monday Live event on May 22 at the Paris Tableau User Group. More info here.