"A periscope is an instrument for observation over, around or through an object, obstacle or condition that prevents direct line-of-sight observation from an observer's current position"
Data stories are an effective way to communicate important insights to stakeholders. They provide a means of communicating with intention and clarity while offering a level of engagement superior to other forms of business reporting.
LINE OF SIGHT COMMUNICATION
Line of sight is the imaginary line between an observer and the target. In communication, the line of sight is the direct path from the sender to the receiver of the message.
A clear line of sight is important to communication. Line of sight is the direct path between two points. It's called “line of sight” because if a person were standing at one point, the line of sight would be the path along which they looked. If an object were blocking the person’s view, it would be considered an obstructed line of sight.
A PERISCOPE IS A STRATEGIC TOOL
When I was school-aged, my brother, who was five years older than me, made a DIY
periscope viewing device out of cardboard and small mirrors. We spent hours looking over fences and around walls. It made us feel empowered to see what others could not.
Thought to be invented by Johannes Hevelius (1611-1683), the periscope was intentionally designed as a strategic tool to create clarity of vision from an otherwise obstructed vantage point. It lets you see things that would not be clearly visible from your current position or perspective.
LINE OF SIGHT COMMUNICATION AND STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT
I’ve written in prior posts about the data saturation in which we are becoming increasingly submersed. Improving data literacy and developing a better data culture are necessary to generate clear communication to stakeholders in today’s data-driven business environment.
Your stakeholders, like you, are submersed in a sea of data. Analogous to the periscope, data storytelling is a tool that can be used to help your stakeholders see through this ocean to focus on data insights with clarity.
The Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK) defines a stakeholder as “a group or individual with a relationship to the change, the need, or the solution”. Stakeholder lists can become quite lengthy as consideration is given to both internal and external audiences. Using a business analysis approach, there are a number of techniques to elicit stakeholder such as stakeholder lists, maps, and personas.
HOW TO CREATE LINE OF SIGHT FOR YOUR STAKEHOLDERS
Here are four ways your can create clear, effective communication with your stakeholders:
Know the needs of your stakeholders.
Analyze your audience. Use audience analysis tools to understand the differing needs of your stakeholders. Get to know them in a variety of measurable and observable ways. Before starting your data story, know who you are telling it to.
Personalize the data story.
Iterate. Multiple stakeholders mean multiple data stories. One size does not fit all. There is no substitution for being able to iterate and test out your data stories in order to discover the most effective way to communicate the key insights to your stakeholders.
Connect the dots.
To drive engagement, help stakeholders to understand how they fit in. Line of sight means that stakeholders can see the connection between their needs and your message. Stakeholders want to know that they have a voice that has been heard and is valued. Don’t assume they know, tell them.
Provide a call to action.
Data stories are designed to convince or compel your stakeholders. Let your stakeholders know what you want them to do with the data you present. Provide a call to action that clearly indicates what key takeaway, action, or decision you want them to think or do.
Related: NARRATIVE DESIGN: THE DATA STORY ARC
Communicating effectively with stakeholders is integral to engaging them. The goal is to communicate insights in such a way that convinces or compels your audience. This article explored how to create line of sight for your stakeholders through data storytelling. Much like a periscope, an effective data story is a strategic tool for getting a signal heard through an ocean of information.
Roseanna Galindo, ECBA, CAVS
Roseanna Galindo is Principal at Periscope Business Process Analysis and a champion for data literacy, the human experience in healthcare, and leaders of volunteers everywhere. Learn more about Roseanna and her blog, The Periscope Insighter, by reading the opening post, Venn The Time Is Right