Build Your Data And Analytics Storytelling Muscle

Sam the BP spent hours working on the spreadsheet. The tables were complete. Running a bit behind time. But…the work, Sam thought, was done.

Press send on that 8pm email…in time for the 9 am, 30-minute catch-up tomorrow with their GM. GM arrives a few minutes late. Apologises. Sorry Sam, I only have 15 minutes, need to get to a client…Sam’s brain went into adrenal overload…a plot twist…Sam planned for a 30-minute meeting…But I need 30 minutes they thought to themselves… what can I share in 15 minutes?

Ok, let’s jump right into it… Sam shares the results and some small talk commentary… Done in 10 minutes… Sam the BP is relieved… The GM leans forward,

“Sam, as a business partner, what do you make of this, what are your observations, are there any blind spots, what are the priority considerations? What do you expect me to do differently?”

Whether you are pitching an idea, communicating a new strategy, or engaging with colleagues, effective storytelling serves an important role in the workplace and any change process.

As a Business Partner, regardless of discipline, there is immense value in building your confidence using financial data to increase your impact and engage with your stakeholders.

Author Chip Heath, captured it nicely, “data are just summaries of thousands of stories – tell a few of those stories to help make the data meaningful.”

So where do you start your data and analytics storytelling journey?

Firstly, every story has a hero. Depends on your audience here…there are typically three types of heroes in your story.

  1. Your external customer,
  2. Your employees, and
  3. Your key internal stakeholders.

Pick one hero. Source existing data and find their story. After all, employees and customers are at the heart of everything we do.

Secondly, whether you are a Finance, Procurement, IT, Marketing or HR Business Partner, develop a more holistic view of the quantitative and qualitative data readily available to you and impact your internal clients, directly or indirectly.

The easiest way to do this is to engage with Business Partners from other disciplines who are tasked with supporting the same business as you – compare KPIs, risks and opportunities.

What data do they utilise in their day to day work to inform their decision making and that of their stakeholders? You may be surprised to see commonality in key performance indicators. This will strengthen working relationships and help point everyone in the same direction.

Ask better questions to understand your company’s or internal stakeholder’s financial story. Our work with Business Partners involves taking a fresh and practical perspective on data and analytics. No statistics degree required.

Using our simple framework, we explore the various phases of data and analytics – from helping construct a narrative of the past, the “what happened?” through to helping envision a possible future “what’s likely to happen if we do x”.

Aim to be better prepared when you’re asked… “As a business partner, what do you make of this, what are your observations, are there any blind spots, what are the priority considerations?”

This is the moment where you know, you have your ticket and are ready to play.

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