Story-driven Data Analysis

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Author: JUDY BAYER AND MARIE TAILLARD | Source: Harvard Busniess Review | Published: September 27, 2013

Great analysts tell great stories based on the results of their analyses.  Stories, after all, make results user-friendly, more conducive to decision-making, and more persuasive.
But that is not the only reason to use stories.  Time and time again in our experience, stories have been more than an afterthought; they have actually enabled a more rigorous analysis of data in the first place.  Stories allow the analysts to construct a set of hypotheses and provide a map for investigating the data.
We recently worked with a department store retailer and a team of analysts looking for creative insights into customer loyalty.  Based on our work with a department store expert, we started out with a storyline, a narrative hypothesis, according to which a customer experiences different journeys through the department store over time and rewards the retailer with a certain level of loyalty.