Join Doug Rose for an in-depth discussion in this video Set a vision, part of Learning Data Science: Tell Stories With Data.
- In her book Resonate, Nancy Duarte goes through several techniques to create a vision to spark change. One of the techniques she talks about is creating contrasts. Contrasts are the ability to separate the current context with a vision for the future. There are many times you want to use data science stories to create a new vision for your organization's future. You may see something new and want to pivot to take advantage of this insight. Other times, you might see a new future for the organization.
Either way, a vision is one of the most challenging things to do when you're telling a story. A story that contrasts the present with the future needs a great deal of trust. No one's going to want to go on this quest with you if they don't trust that they know where you're going. That's why one of the first things you want to do is help establish your own credibility. One way to do this is with the EVA approach. EVA stands for engagement, vision, and authenticity.
If you're a fan of the film Wall-E, then you should have no trouble remembering this approach. Just think of the lovely robot EVE. This technique is very valuable when you want to tell a story with a new vision for the future. When setting a vision, you want to engage your audience. You can use a lot of techniques you've seen to draw them into the story. If you can't convince them that there's an interesting story, then you won't be able to motivate them to make changes. Remember to focus on an interesting plot and create strong characters with memorable details.
Next, you want to set up a clear vision for the future. You'll want to help the audience picture their real changes in this new vision of the future. Finally, make sure that you communicate this vision with authenticity. If it comes across as a sales pitch, your audience won't trust that it's in their best interest. So let's say that you work for a power company. Your data science team came up with a way to more efficiently distribute power. In your story, you might want to talk about the current state.
You could mention that a lot of power gets wasted going where it's not needed. You could use data devices to route power in real time, based on demand. Your team could predict how much power your customers need based on a combination of unstructured and structured data. They could analyze data from the National Weather Service, then compare that to some of the unstructured data in social media. You could also help tell the story using a common metaphor, such as smart energy grid.
You could also bring in case studies from other companies that are trying something similar. Then you could use critical thinking to compare your organization and highlight key differences. All of these ideas and data will help create the plot of your story. You're trying to get the organization to go on a new quest, so you want to create interesting characters and establish some conflict between the present and the future. The vision is the part of the story that has the greatest impact. You can create a vision of the future where the organization uses data science to route power in real time.
And you could talk about how this would be more environmentally friendly. A wind farm in Texas might have a windy day, which gives excess power to a hot spot in Arizona. And a sunny day in Arizona could route back power to a calmer day in Texas. You could also create a metaphor that compares the system to a living organism. Maybe you can talk about how the system would breathe a steady stream of data. All these techniques would help you engage your audience. Finally, you want to maintain your authenticity.
When you try the EVA approach, it's important to be seen as someone's who an insider. It's extremely difficult for consultants and people outside the organization to bring in the kind of authenticity you need to establish a new vision. You'll need to come across as someone who cares about the organization and has a genuine interest in the story. Creating a vision of the future is one of the most challenging stories that you'll tell. But it's something you can do to make real changes. Try to remember the EVA approach as a way to tell these stories and build up everyone's interest.
- Structuring a data science story
- Defining plot, conflict, and details
- Going beyond reporting
- Knowing your audience
- Working with data
- Introducing visuals
- Eliminating distractions
- Incorporating metaphors
- Motivating the audience
- Avoiding pitfalls