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1 + 6 Reasons for looking for the story in the data

Storytelling is highly fashionable at the moment, but that is the least good reason for utilising storyfinding and storytelling. Here are six good reasons why we should be using storyfinding and storytelling, but I will start with THE KEY reason.

The Key Reason for Using Stories

All research projects should lead to action. In the commercial world, we do not conduct research out of curiosity or for academic purposes. We conduct research to help organisations make better (evidence-based) decisions. The right story, told the right way, makes it more likely that action will happen.

1. Stories are easier to understand

If we are presented with a list of facts we find it hard to assimilate the information, and hard to see the actions that should be taken. Stories do the heavy lifting and join the relevant facts into a coherent, easy to understand whole.

2. Stories are easier to remember

Facts, numbers, quotes etc. are hard to remember. A coherent and meaningful story is memorable and can readily be applied over a period of time to ensure that the actions are implemented and followed through.

3. Stories are more engaging

Your colleagues and stakeholders are more likely to listen to you if you employ storytelling. Senior players are more like to attend your debriefs and read your reports if they are engaging. Everybody is busy and easily distracted, storytelling helps you break through the surrounding cacophony.

4. Stories are more motivational

Facts and data are dispassionate, they don’t argue in favor of the right outcomes. Stories take the audience by the hand and lead them to the right outcomes; they make action more likely.

5. Storyfinding focuses your analysis

Defining the problem and seeking the story in the data will give your analysis focus. Data sets are getting larger and timelines are getting shorter, we need heuristics to help us conduct the analysis efficiently. Storyfinding and sensemaking are analysis approaches that help you to focus on what is needed.

6. No story, no comprehension

If you have analysed a data set and listed multiple findings, but you have not found the story, then you should recognize that you have not finished your analysis yet. If you have a list of facts, but no coherent story, then you do not have a true comprehension of the problem and its solution.

Want to learn more?
Join me in a three-part workshop, Finding and communicating the story in the data, starting 23 September to develop your toolbox of story finding and storytelling techniques.

Author: Ray Poynter, Chief Research Officer, Potentiate

Ray is based in the UK and has over 40 years of experience at the intersection of work, fun and discovery.

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