Designed for managers looking to gain a critical understanding of data visualisation (e.g. dashboards), this 4-day course will equip them with practical tools to govern ambiguity, complexity, and the management of unknown-unknowns in decision-making processes.

Monday 9 March–Thursday 12 March 2020
MBA Suite
Prof Paolo Quattrone; Professor and Chair of Accounting, Governance, and Social Innovation; University of Edinburgh Business School


The deadline for applications to this course has now passed.

It draws on theories developed in interdisciplinary accounting, science, and technology studies, and rhetoric and communication studies, blending them in ways that equip students with a novel understanding of the roles that data visualisations and financial representations play in organisations and megaprojects.

Rather than seeing management control as a mere technical matter based on objective accounting calculations, students learn about the various roles these calculations play in organisations and programme management.

By preparing a case to be discussed before class, you will already start to become familiar with the topic before the start of the course.

Aims and Outcomes

On completion of this course, the students will be able to:

  • Understand how data visualisations play different roles (from providing answers to help learning, via mediating political and contextual issues) in various phases of the decision-making process
  • Understand issues in stakeholders' and media management when communicating financial results to internal and external audiences
  • Understand the basic economics of large infrastructure and industrial investments, the advantages and risks involved in using calculative techniques in assessing the financial viability of such investments
  • Understand complexities in change and project management
  • Understand how to use data visualisations as tools to govern complex organisations and programmes in order to scrutinise uncertainty and risk and explore unknowns

Course Content

The course uses a mix of lectures and case studies, together with classroom simulations and exercises. Lectures are designed to be interactive and to promote autonomous and peer learning.

Day Content Overview
Day 1

Deconstructing common wisdom (I)

  • Exploring the sources of complexity and ambiguity in decision-making
  • Creating a model describing the various roles accounting and management control play when facing increasing degrees of uncertainty and complexity
  • Reflecting on your own ways to manage ambiguity and complexities
Day 2

Deconstructing common wisdom (II)

  • Understanding what data visualisations are useful for and what they instead cannot deliver

Constructing alternative forms of managing ambiguity and complexities (I)

  • How to design reporting systems
  • How to design data visualisations
Day 3

Constructing alternative forms of managing ambiguity and complexities (II)

  • How to use reporting and data visualisations to govern ambiguity and complexities

Practicing lessons learnt (I)

  • Building effective decision-making systems: Maieutic machines
Day 4

Practicing lessons learnt (II)

  • Assessing the quality of decision-making systems

Assessment and Credits

Participants are required to attend every session throughout the week and to take part in all activities and submit all assessments. On successful completion, they will receive a certificate and 10 credits which can be used towards an MBA/EMBA programme.

Students will be required to complete an individual assessement (60% of final mark) as well as a group exercise (40% of final mark).

This is an intensive course with teaching based on a 09:00–17:00 working day however there will be group work, assignments and reading outside these hours. There will also be some pre-course reading and tasks to complete before the first session.

Course Fees

Course fees include all tuition and course materials, but excludes any textbooks that may be required. Catering and accommodation are not included.

There is a 20% discount for University of Edinburgh Alumni and Staff.

The deadline for applications is Monday 10 February 2020.


For entry requirements please see our EMBA entry requirements.

Please email us if you would like more information:

Further Information