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Storytelling for decision quality at scale
Insights-Driven Decisions 4 MIN READ

Storytelling for decision quality at scale

by Elizabeth Morgan
4 MIN READ

Decision-makers only use evidence in 50% of their decisions. There are two reasons why: they can’t find the evidence they need when they need it, and when they do find evidence, it’s ambiguous and difficult to use. In fact, according to Gartner (2019), when there’s a contradiction between data points, 90% of decision-makers go with their guts.

If the business can’t rely on the consistent quality of gut-led decision making, they don’t achieve their goals for growth and they waste the money they invest in data, research and insights.

It helps to understand how business people access and understand insights, and how they use them to make decisions. When an insights professional is in the room, they do everything they can to support market-facing decision-making.

But that’s just not realistic anymore: in a house of brands, an insights expert typically serves 10-20 business people. In a branded house, an expert could be supporting over 100. Now, working from home means being even further away from those decisions.

How can insights be delivered for decision quality at scale?

Insights make sense when they’re framed in a story – packaged in a friendly way that appeals to emotions rather than pure logic. According to data storytelling expert Brent Dykes, “data storytelling provides the bridge between the world of logic and emotion. A data story offers a safe passage for your insights to travel.”

When we read dry, factual arguments, we are critical and skeptical. That’s when we use the reasonable, logical side of our brains, which is only one half of the equation. But when data and research is packaged in an engaging story, we drop our intellectual guard. Brent Dykes summarizes our reaction to stories in the following ways:

  • Stories engage more of our brains
  • Stories form a unique connection between the storyteller and the listener
  • Stories increase our attention and empathy
  • Stories make us less sceptical and more open to change
  • Stories enhance our comprehension

Data storytelling is greatly enhanced by the creation of a central source of truth. On Market Logic platforms, for example, knowledge zones are provided so experts can curate and promote strategic stories, synthesizing all of the available insights to kill ambiguity. In these zones, insights teams can integrate all the different data sources to provide consolidated, relevant and reliable information.

This makes it near impossible for decision-makers to ignore the facts, especially when the findings contradict their gut feelings. It’s not one piece of research – it’s reliable, up-to-date company knowledge about a topic.

A best practice example comes to us from Philips, where the team uses the Forrester Storytelling Playbook and Market Logic’s technology with their Eureka platform. They use knowledge zones to help overwhelmed decision-makers live up to their mission: to improve the lives of three billion people by 2030.

Knowledge zones consolidate data and provide engaging insights in key strategic areas for the beauty landscape, China strategy, Japan strategy, body care, hair care, and facial care. This helps them to make sure relevant insights are socialized across the organization. Crucially, each zone is continually updated with the latest insights so decision quality can remain at its highest.

To help decision-makers avoid the pitfalls of over-relying on their gut instincts, insights should be accessible and trustworthy. Technical solutions like market insights platforms bring all insights to one centralized location to help experts guide decision quality with strategic storytelling at scale.

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