Finding and Communication the Story in the Data – New book in Progress!

Golden eggPosted by Ray Poynter, 28 December 2021

I have started writing a new book, which I aim to publish in the middle of the year. The book’s working title is ‘Finding and communicating the story in the data’ and it will be based on the course I have been running for the last few years.

I will be posting updates along the way, and I have scheduled three webinars (one each for Jan, Feb and March) that will be based on elements of the book. You can register for the three webinars below.

  • Looking for patterns in the data, Thursday 27 January (3pm London, 10am New York), Register here
  • Working with qualitative information, Thursday 24 February (3pm London, 10am New York), Register here
  • Communicating stories, Thursday 17 March (3pm London, 11am New York), Register here

The Introduction and the Framework.

Below I have set out the current draft of the Introduction to the book and a description of the framework I will be advocating in the book. Please feel free to make comments and suggestions – you will be thanked in the book ?

1) Introduction – Finding and Communicating the Story in the Data

We live in VUCA times (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous). Data is growing larger and more complex, timelines are growing shorter, and so the signal in the noise is getting harder to find. This book introduces a systematic way of finding and communicating the story in the data.

The context for this book is that you have been asked to look at some data and find the story. In a typical case, there are three roles in this process. The decision-maker (the person who will make the decision), an intermediary (for example an insight manager), and the analyst (the person who will work with the data). In general, the decision-maker will know lots about the decision, but much less about analysis. The analyst will know lots about analysis, but much less about the context for the decision. The intermediary tends to lie somewhere between the other two, on both topics.

This book is based on my forty-plus years of experience working in the insight industry and with decision-makers. In the book, I will share things I have learned from mistakes, from experience, and from others. I won’t pretend that what I suggest is the only way of solving problems, but it represents a coherent collection of things that I have found to work, and which I hope will help you.

This book is an introduction to the process of finding and communicating the story in the data. I plan to add several more books that will look at specific elements of the process – for example, methods of applying multivariate analyses to find the story, approaches to visualisation, and how to better leverage qualitative analysis.

2) A framework for story finding and communication

This book shares an eight-step framework to help you find and communicate the story in the data.

  1. Define the Problem
  2. Assess the Wider Context
  3. Find the Big Picture
  4. Extract the Key Findings
  5. Determine the Message
  6. Create the Story
  7. Communicate the Story
  8. Follow Up

All these steps are important, but the two absolute key steps are Steps 1 and 7, Defining the Problem and Communicate the Story. If you don’t define the problem properly, it is unlikely you will recognise the answer, even if you find it. If you find the answer to the decision-maker’s problem but fail to communicate it in ways that lead to action, you have wasted time and money.