Data Visualization: A True Stakeholder Map

During my internship at Grontmij I had so extra time during the summer during which I was waiting for feedback on my thesis. This was’t really what I hoped for, but on the other hand I was presented with a wonderful other assignment which I otherwise wouldn’t have had time for.

As a large engineering company Grontmij gets most of its large assignment through tenders. For this they always have to go through multiple rounds and present and write multiple reports, which means that it is always necessary to keep in some creativity to try out new things to keep both the teams and the clients awake.

During the summer a tender was held for all engineering design for the refurbishing of a several km long road that has to become the most sustainable road that is possible. One of the most important scoring points for this tender was showing that you (as a company) were not looking inward but that you had a stakeholder network in the area, and another large scoring point was sustainability in any way possible. This has led the team to talk to a variety of stakeholders and to ask them to think with them about how they could help make the road (and nearby area) as sustainable as possible.

After these talks they compiled a nice table of the stakeholders including what they could do for the project. The information in it was fine, but in this way absolutely useless for a tender document. Luckily there are many creatives in this world, and so one (not me) came up with the idea of putting all the stakeholders on a map from which it could somehow become clear what they were offering.

At this point I came in. I was handed the list, a Google maps screenshot on which the location of most stakeholders was shown and the assignment to figure something out to make it work visually.

I somehow figured that it would be nice to use a hexagon (since hexagons are often used in nature, think for example of a bee-hive) around which the different types of help from the stakeholder could be placed. This led to six different types of help, each with their own symbol, with right in the middle the number that was given to that stakeholder. On the map only the types of help provided by the stakeholder would be shown, all other types of help are left out. In the figure below the legend of this can be found.

Tekening N470 step2

The next step was creating an actual underlay for the stakeholders, so first of all the main characteristics of the landscape were formed in a land-use sketch (often used in architecture to create a quick overview of a landscape or building) to which the main roads, railroads and waterways were added. Also the names of the cities were placed on the respective places in the form a sign that is also normally used in the Netherlands for this. Later on the exact borders of the cities were added to clarify it at certain points. This led to the map below.

Tekening N470 step1

The final step in creating the map was putting all the stakeholders on their respective spots and adding their types of help. In one area a specifically high concentration of stakeholders was found which meant that a loupe was added to magnify this piece (idea stolen from this). That led to the following completed map (without the names of the stakeholders).

Tekening N470 step3-02

In order to incorporate the map into the plan of action two pages had to be used, which meant two pages less text. As a workaround it was decided to make it into a cover for the plan. This meant adding a gutter in the middle, adding some extra text and refining the lay-out. In the end this was used as the cover (with the logos of the stakeholders on the right-hand side).

Voorpagina N470 PvA Final

Unfortunately the tender was lost to a competitor, but I’m sure that it wasn’t due to the work that we did in those weeks and the creation of this awesome stakeholder map.

Caught Mid-Air

I’ve got one shoot which is returning every year, just because everybody just really likes it. Each year around Christmas I meet up with the ladies selection gymnasts of DVO Dordrecht for a shoot where I freeze them at special points in time.

The business idea is always simply the same, I offer them the shots for their PR, and I can sell them to the gymnasts. Very simple, but most of all we just have fun doing this.

Hope you enjoy these shots!

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The Idea Behind The Graphic Design of My Thesis

As with everything, it all starts with a good content, and can be finished of with good looks. A thesis is not much different in that, and so I did put some time in coming up with a good design for mine.

I’ll take you through some of the ideas behind the design of the entire document, from title to logo to layout.


First of all, the title. While doing my research I was literally mapping all the different policy instruments that are available for direct current and sustainable energy in general.

When the map has been created, the next step was looking for any gaps in the instruments that need to be filled for the development of DC. Hence, the title became: “A gap in the map?”

The logo

ACDC Kleuren Logo-01

Next, the logo. For the design I took the idea of a map and of four different islands under which the different instruments could be classified (this later changed in the final version, but for the logo this was better).

Another relevant discussion is the one between Alternating Current (AC), the current standard, and Direct Current (DC), the new technique. The technicalities don’t matter for the design, but the difference between AC and DC could be easily shown as four ‘islands’, namely A, C, D & C. Put together in a square you automatically see them, while also seeing the difference.

Then the coloring of the logo. For this I looked at the colors of the logos of the companies the research was done for. Using Google I found these color cards for Grontmij and ABN AMRO. From these cards I took the main color and first accent colour of Grontmij and ABN AMRO to fill the blocks. For the letters AC the main colors were used to emphasize the dominant position of AC, whereas the first accent colors were used for DC to show that it is less well known than AC.

As a final touch I added a photo of an office building as background effect to emphasize that the research took place in an office building.

Lay-out, images and tables


Moving on to the further lay-out of the document, I used a two column layout with white borders with widths as determined by the University. The titles of the chapters, as well as the introductory paragraph span two columns, whereas all the main text is placed into one column. Images are either one or two columns wide, depending on the amount of information in the image.

For the text a combination of fonts was used. While searching online I found this website on which a series of nice font combinations is presented. I opted for the combination of Helvetica Bold and Garamond. This combination works very well. with the sans serif Helvetica (bold) for all the titles and headings and with serif Garamond to make reading easy.

For the chapter titles the colour blue of Grontmij was used, whereas for the (subheadings) gray and black have been used. All main text was also in black. One notable exception are the numbering of the tables and images. For this the words Image/Table and the number were shown in green (for the images) and blue (for the tables).


As a final design aspect I chose to (re)draw any images in the green color of the ABN AMRO logo, and all tables used the blue of the Grontmij logo for accents.

When adding all these elements together it created a very professional look which has supported the contents of the report. And probably had a positive impact on my grade as well, but that can only be guessed.

Some Quick Beach & Dune Shots

Today I just want to share some shots with you. No awesome story behind it, I just like them.

The photos were taken in the Kennemerduinen and the beach of Zandvoort. I did the NS walk Kennemerduinen, from station Santpoort Noord to Overveen which is a beautiful route through this landscape and a very nice place to take these shots.

_DSC2623 _DSC2626 _DSC2629 _DSC2638

Check back on thursday for some more details about the graphic design choices I made for my thesis.

My Master Thesis Project: Direct Current in an Office Building

hereMy biggest project of the past year (and of my entire life I think) was my Master Thesis Project. During eight months I conducted research for ABN AMRO bank at Grontmij (a large engineering consultant) to investigate the possibilities for converting an existing office building to Direct Current (DC).

The research was split up into two parts, where first of all the focus was on building a business case for converting an office to DC, and second on investigating the available policy instruments to aid the development of DC buildings.

The very short summary of the first part is that it is possible to convert an office so it can run on DC, but that the costs are currently fairly high (with payback times of 10-30 years depending on the choices you make) and that a lot of tailor made solutions need to be used. It is however possible to save between 10-14% of the electricity use by doing so, coming mainly from less losses in transformers and less losses in the cables.

Other financial savings come from the ‘simplification’ of the system. For example, a DC/DC converter for a computer is much smaller, uses a lot less material and is more efficient than the current AC/DC blocks that feed your PC, thereby saving money.

So the conclusion for the first part is that for now it is only interesting as a learning opportunity, but not so much as a hard financial opportunity.

The second part of the research focussed on the policy instruments, and in there most of all the interesting observations concerning innovation and policy instruments can be made.

(Almost) Every new idea will need some help to be become a real product on the market. This is even more true for sustainability innovations, which have a positive influence on the environment but usually at costs that are exceeding the existing solutions.

It is therefore that governments create all kinds of policy instruments that can help these innovations cross the chasm and become a competitive product in the existing market. This does lead to some questions however, such as which innovations to support and when to provide which kind of support.

There is no simple, short answer to this but in general it is clear that in the first stages tax deductions for doing any kind of R&D are the instrument of choice, whereas in later stages more generic instruments are created when the innovation has proven successful. There are however still a lot more instruments to choose from at that point

If you’re interested (which might just be the case), feel free to check out the poster below, of download my entire thesis here. And if you have any questions, recommendations or other remarks, please let me know, either in the comments or by sending me a message!


That’s all for today, in one of the upcoming posts I’ll explain some more about the design process of the logo, the branding and the poster & presentation.

Check back next week for more!

Guess Who’s Back

That’s right. It has been very quite over here the past few months, due to several reasons, but I’m back and I’ll have enough to post over the coming weeks in updates, both from recent items as well as from the past months.

Today I’ll just start with a small list of the most important things of the past few months, but expect more depth in upcoming posts.

  1. I finished my master thesis and so I am officially Master of Science now (already for several months, but still important to name)
  2. I’m looking for an interesting job. Although I like freelancing a lot I do want to develop myself further in a ‘normal’ job over the coming years and maybe eventually become an entrepreneur myself (a typical case of never say never)
  3. And as third and final point, the photography is still going strong, with some interesting images to share, as well as some more gear reviews (for example, the header is a Next-Level selfie, of which I’ll explain more another time)

For today I’ll just keep it to this, but I’ll get back to you in the second half of this week and in the coming weeks with hopefully some more entertaining posts for you.

In the mean time, Enjoy.

Portfolio Management For Innovators

One of the hardest parts of managing innovation is picking the right projects and managing these at the same time correctly. In the literature about this subject the main discussions are about exploitation (using what you already have) vs. exploration (diving into new areas of business and hardcore innovation) and about stage-gate models for developing the right innovations.

Portfolio management is also an important subject in this, since this focusses on what projects are in your pipeline, and which one’s you are kicking out of it. This is usually done looking at the incremental/radical division and how far does is suit our strategy, but you can go much further.

In this new article by the focus is on four different types of innovations to consider when doing portfolio management, including the two named above, but also focussing on business model innovation and new venture innovation, focussing on how the company should react when the entire market changes.

Really interesting stuff for any company to think about when setting up their innovation goals for the years to come. Especially since it forces you to think deeper about what you’re doing and where you’re going.

3 Steps From Idea To Innovation (According To An Incubator)

A week ago I presented my research to the people from KIC InnoEnergy; an incubator aimed specifically at sustainable energy innovations funded by the EU.

They helped me get further with my research by pointing out some things they believe are necessary for the succes of the product, but also we had a nice discussion about innovation in general.

Along the way of the discussion we came across their method of getting a person with an idea towards an innovation. They do this in three simple steps, which I kindly turned into this nice infographic which is now also decorating some walls in the office.


Hurray For Adobe

Just a quick thing I found out last week. For the past few years I’ve been using the student edition of the Adobe suite of software for creating all kinds of designs related to my study.

Now, I’m moving forward to the next phase, where I’ll be using the software to create things I get paid for. And for a long time I thought I wasn’t allowed to use the Education version of Adobe Creative Cloud for commercial purposes, but as I was looking into buying another license for the commercial work I found in the Dutch FAQ of the student and teacher edition this sentence (which I kindly translated for you):

Can I use the Student and Teacher Edition-products commercially?

Yes, Student and Teacher Edition-products can be used commercially on your own computer. Resale is not allowed.

This means that I can happily use this software at a discounted price, while having all the options I need. And yes, I’m happy about that, and I think that this is very smart, since they create a kind of lock-in for you when using these products (they’re kind of awesome in their class, I think).

Anyway, for anybody in the Student field this is a very interesting option where you can earn back the costs of a year license by producing some commercial work. Yay us.

One thing: although I found this in the Dutch version at this moment, Adobe has the right to change their terms at any moment and they may differ per country. Check for yourself to see if this is (still) applicable in your case. I can not be held accountable for any issues following from this post. Keep thinking.

Home Battery Storage for Many More

This week Tesla has made an announcement that will really kickstart the battery storage at homes. The new Tesla Powerwall is a very well looking battery box that can be mounted to your wall and attached directly to your solar panels to store the power so you can use it when you need it.

Although they are not the first one to produce something like this, they aim at doing it a such an enormous scale (by opening a new factory which will instantly double the current world production of Li-Ion batteries), that it will have a big impact on energy storage.

The only issue with this is that it might lead to a lock-in of the inferior Lithium-Ion technology for batteries, whereas currently researchers are investigating many better options, with higher power densities at lower prices. The issue currently however is that these are by far not ready for the market, but it still means that research aimed at this should be funded in order to bring the world further (are you reading this European Commission?).

Still, for now I believe that this is a very good start for this, and that it will lead to a much bigger market for sustainable energy generation. So yay for Elon Musk and Tesla.