Data driven Storytelling: Make your Big Medium or Small Data Come "Alive"


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There's as lot of talk about big data and the ability to HAVE the data, but data alone is not enough. In order to drive dialogue action and measurable business results the one with data also has to learn to be a storyteller. This power point was used in a webinar to introduce the data coaching or data-driven storytelling program being taught at the University of Southern California. For full webinar with audio, click here:

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Data driven Storytelling: Make your Big Medium or Small Data Come "Alive"

  1. 1. Copyright © 2013 Dr. Theresa M. WelbourneData-Driven StorytellingTheresa M. Welbourne, Ph.DCenter for Effective OrganizationsUniversity of Southern CaliforniaPresident and CEO, eePulse, Inc.FirsTier Banks DistinguishedProfessor of Business andDirector, Center for Entrepreneurship,University of Nebraska-Lincoln1Lacey Leone-McLaughlinDirector, Executive EducationCenter for Effective OrganizationsUniversity of Southern California
  2. 2. Copyright © 2013 Dr. Theresa M. WelbourneGoals for Today• Introduction to few key concepts used toteach data-driven storytelling or data coaching• What data-driven storytelling is and how it’sdifferent from related tools• Provide examples of different approaches• Share ideas about how simple solutions candrive business results2
  3. 3. Copyright © 2013 Dr. Theresa M. WelbourneFavorite Quote3“Always look for the simple solution”
  4. 4. Copyright © 2013 Dr. Theresa M. WelbourneWhy Data Coaching? Theresa’s StoryOptimizing and directing employee energy at work4
  5. 5. Copyright © 2013 Dr. Theresa M. WelbourneDirectors tell stories• Directors start with data (story, facts), andthey weave it into a story. The same data maylead to very different stories.• Directors think about genres.• We also need to use genre as a lens.• Let’s look at an example5
  6. 6. Copyright © 2013 Dr. Theresa M. WelbourneThree Different Genres – Same Input DataStory #1Story #2Story #36Think about genre as youlook at these video clips.Think about the emotion youfeel as you watch each one.
  7. 7. Copyright © 2013 Dr. Theresa M. WelbourneGenre Important• Presentation or story will differ based on:– What you want to achieve (result)– The audience– Resources for the work– Your level of confidence and risk taking profile• Typical business genres– Documentaries (just the facts)– Drama (feel the story of a character)– Horror (change this or we will go out of business)• Degree and type of emotion varies7
  8. 8. Copyright © 2013 Dr. Theresa M. WelbourneEmotion ???Most data-driven projects evoke little,if any, emotion8
  9. 9. Copyright © 2013 Dr. Theresa M. WelbourneCurrent Landscape9Big Data VisualizationTechnologyStorytellingData-driven storytelling or “power storytelling” is somewherein the middle
  10. 10. Copyright © 2013 Dr. Theresa M. WelbourneBig Data = The Big Novel10The required skill set is real anduncommonWe need tools that empower knowledgeworkersBig Data arethe sourcesof themultiplestoriesorganizationscan tell
  11. 11. Copyright © 2013 Dr. Theresa M. WelbourneVisualization = Picture (storyboard)11Visualization is adesign process. It’s atool like Power Point,Excel, PreziIn the world of genre,visualization can helpyou make a betterdocumentary.Infographic by Karen DeCuir DiNicolaOn a mission to fix waiting rooms
  12. 12. Copyright © 2013 Dr. Theresa M. WelbourneTechnology = Tools of tradeDashboards, bar charts and pie charts12Sample fromMetro Tribal.
  13. 13. Copyright © 2013 Dr. Theresa M. WelbourneStorytelling = The “art”People will remember if you tell a good story13Emotional responses lead the brain toremember – but for what purpose?
  14. 14. Copyright © 2013 Dr. Theresa M. WelbourneCurrent Landscape14Big Data VisualizationTechnologyStorytellingData Dialogue Action ResultsThe focus onresults is missingfrom much of thiswork.The story evolves
  15. 15. Copyright © 2013 Dr. Theresa M. WelbourneFind stories StrategizingDataDialogueActionResultsDialogueActionDataResultsStartData-Driven StorytellingWhen you are in searchof stories or linkagesand when you can’t“choose” your data.When you need to solvebusiness problems;when you can choosedata to drive results.Start15
  16. 16. Copyright © 2013 Dr. Theresa M. WelbourneImprove Both16Power story telling requires two typesDATA PEOPLE DIALOGUE PEOPLE16
  17. 17. Copyright © 2013 Dr. Theresa M. WelbourneTeaming to do Data-Driven Storytelling17Find storiesDataDialogueActionResultsFinding stories in data•Not just about data analysis•Use new lenses to do the analysis•Data gurus are often not very goodat finding a new lens; need theirdialogue friends to help•Examples from traditional surveydata
  18. 18. Copyright © 2013 Dr. Theresa M. WelbourneChange Scenario: Example #118Personal rate of changeLow Medium HighGrouprate ofchangeHighMediumLowHighestperformanceand surveyscoresLowest ratesofengagementandsatisfaction(whendifferencewasgreatest)
  19. 19. Copyright © 2013 Dr. Theresa M. WelbourneNew Vision and Strategy: Example #2Employee Engagement Value employees get19Choose the core questions that representemployee engagement; what employees “give”Pick the questions that represent whatemployees should “get” in exchange for beingengaged. This may be formal rewards,informal rewards, training opportunities,environment, flexibility at work, etc.Employee ValueExchangeProposition
  20. 20. Copyright © 2013 Dr. Theresa M. WelbourneEmployee Engagement(what employees give to the company)Low Medium HighEmployeePerceivedValue (whatthey getfrom thecompany)HighMediumLowValue greater thanengagementValue greater thanengagementValue greater thanengagementEngagementgreater than valueEngagement greaterthan valueEngagement greaterthan valueAlignmentAlignmentAlignmentX XXXXXXXXThese people are notperformance aligned; atrisk of entitlement (valueis higher thanengagement).These individuals arealigned; however, is thedistribution where youwant it? There are a lotof people “stuck” in themiddle.These employees arepotentially what we call“neglected warriors” -- engaging but withunbalanced value.20
  21. 21. Copyright © 2013 Dr. Theresa M. WelbourneReorganization: Example #321Analyze data by centers of excellence obtained via theinformal hierarchy. Make restructuring decisions withnew and additional knowledge.
  22. 22. Copyright © 2013 Dr. Theresa M. WelbourneBack to Genre• Choosing new lenses for analysis – same data• Made data more applicable to audience• All on same page; easier to agree• We CHOSE the lens (point of view important)22Same type of data – three lenses (like the 3 versions of Snow White)(1) Change is good(1) Employee exchange is better than employee value (one way)(1) Informal hierarchy shows the unknown super heroes
  23. 23. Copyright © 2013 Dr. Theresa M. Welbourne 23StrategizingDialogueActionDataResultsTeaming to do Data-Driven StorytellingBe selective aboutthe data you needand the data youwant to use.
  24. 24. Copyright © 2013 Dr. Theresa M. WelbourneExample = Start with Results24ResultActionDialogueData6 months to turn around a company (or it will be sold)Strong point of view about what was needed to win.Employees needed to focus and change quality; unionhad to cooperate; site had to cut costs without layoffs.High-impact dialogue and storytelling, driving emotion, torally everyone. Utilized lots of media, but core story was key.DRAMA – employee is the star. HORROR – whathappens if we lose.Facts plus monthly pulses using influence questions (10questions). Reminded everyone what they had to do.Customized, tailored, chosen carefully to persuade.
  25. 25. Copyright © 2013 Dr. Theresa M. WelbourneData Audit= Learning ToolComplexLevel 6SimpleLevel 15432Simple, level 1 data: Focus group data or countdata from one point in time (less argument, clear)Complex, level 6 data: Big statistics, controlvariables, longitudinal data, predictive modeling,combine financial and/or sales data. Harder tocollect; easier to “argue.”Tracking what data are useful indriving what results.This will help you CHOOSE whichdata you need (maximize resources).25
  26. 26. Copyright © 2013 Dr. Theresa M. WelbourneFind stories StrategizingDataDialogueActionResultsDialogueActionDataResultsStartData-Driven StorytellingStartStory isimportanthere26Story andhypotheses
  27. 27. Copyright © 2013 Dr. Theresa M. WelbourneLearning Data-Driven Storytelling27Get Big Data• Right data• Accurate data• Data from the‘source’Focus Data• Create the storywith this subset orsummary of data• Use different lenses;choose genre• Write the scriptTell the Story• Presentation• Technology• Choose actors• Distributionnetwork• LEARN / REWORKTell the storyFind the storyWe talked about only these first two steps today.
  28. 28. Copyright © 2013 Dr. Theresa M. WelbourneBiggest Learnings• Need data and dialogue people• Point of view is critical• 70-page presentations do not work• Skills set is new; practice is important• Our students are staying in touch and sharingexperiences with each other; data coaching maybe the “right” term because coaching is anongoing learning process28
  29. 29. Copyright © 2013 Dr. Theresa M. WelbourneQuestions?Resources: M. Welbourne,’s blog: me on Twitter @TheresaWelbourn29