What’s the story?

I went to a networking breakfast this morning and while the topic was more broadly HR, there was a great line that relates to the HR metric community.

People don’t remember the number, they remember the story.

While this might be slightly paraphrased, it is a good principle to keep in mind when designing reporting (ad hoc or regular).

The concept suggests that you shouldn’t be too caught up in providing stacks of pie charts and tables. Information overload will detract from the premise. Even if you have the right information, how you present the data is key.

When you are putting together your report, have a think about what question you are answering, or what story you are trying to tell. Sometimes a table is better than a complicated graph, or a simple image and single number can be more powerful than a series of bar charts.

Do your reports answer the question, or tell the story?


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