Corporate Culture in a Venn Diagram

Dan Pontrefact, Apr 14, 2015
Commentary by Stephen Downes

You can read the article for yourself; I want to use this post to flag the misuse of the term "Venn Diagram". In this article, the diagram has four circles, while in a proper Venn diagram there are only three. Why does this matter? Well, the whole purpose of a Venn Diagram is to display all possible overlaps of different categories (specifically: A and not B or C, B and not A or C, C and not A or C, A and B and not C, A and C and not B, B and C and not A, and A and B and C). By this means categorical inferences can be diagrammed and proven. But the four-circle diagram does not display all possible overlaps. Any categorizations produced by means of such a diagram will therefore be miscategorizations. For example, in Pontrefact's diagram, there is no space for "relationship and connected and not committed or open". You may argue that this is an empty category, but this is surely an empirical truth (if it is true) and not a logical truth. Bottom line: don't use four-circle Venn diagrams, or your readers (some of them, at least) will know you don't understand basic categorical reasoning.

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