Through most projects we spend a lot of time on the data. The data tells us all we need to know and hidden somewhere in the data is the argument that will get people to buy in to our strategy or proposal.

The data is important. Especially in a world of project plans, task lists, and accountabilities. But has humans we crave more than data. It’s not enough to engage us. It’s not enough of an argument.

We’ve all been in presentations or read reports that present data that is hard to argue with. Logical. Well presented. But rarely is it enough for us to really get behind an idea and commit to it. The story that goes along with the data is what will engage us. I’ve been thinking a lot about this. And coming across the pic posted by Warren Church on Twitter captured it for me.

Because we deal in complexity and more specifically ambiguity, the story is far more important than the data if we want to convince people. People can input to a story. Staff can take a story and make it their own. We often talk about rigour and relevance – I think we need to add relatability to that set. Creating an argument that people can relate to, that in turn is backed up by the rigourous analysis, and relevant content is the right balance.

An executive coach that I spoke to over 15 years ago used to tell me that we are largely driven by our gut – “we are just big complicated worms” he used to say. When we read something or hear something, we have an emotional reaction to it. We can’t help it. It’s that emotional reaction that we need to tap in to if we want to make change. The effects of data wear off….an emotional reaction will stay with us and be able to be recalled.