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Using data to drive business decisions

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Effective data presentation makes a case for change

You’ve done the research.  You’ve compiled the data.  All signs indicate that your organization should move forward with the proposed strategic changes.  However, some stakeholders still seem unconvinced.  Could their reticence come from how findings were presented and the case for change was built?

Data drives business decisions when used effectively.  To gain buy-in from your key stakeholders, present your facts and findings in a way that demonstrates both the need for change and the beneficial outcomes.

Follow these five guidelines to use data to reinforce your recommendations.

  1. Share established data to level set – Begin your presentations by introducing established and generally accepted data as an anchor point.  This will create common understanding among your key stakeholders.  Building a strong foundation with current data, before reviewing proposed changes, leads to greater buy-in.
  2. Document all sources and assumptions – Define sources to ensure transparency and credibility.  Explain your calculations, parameters, and assumptions, so everyone understands your thought process and how you reached your conclusions.
  3. Prepare next-level analyses to support next-level discussions – Provide a simultaneous view of the current state vs. future state with a defined data set that shows the potential impact of making strategic change.  A side-by-side comparison emphasizes the outcomes of both your proposed strategy and reveals the risk posed by inaction.
  4. Present incremental views to develop complex concepts – Build up to complex concepts by conveying your strategy through various data sets.  Showing data in multiple ways ensures your audience can come on the strategy journey with you.
  5. Use taglines to summarize your message – Feature conclusive phrases that reinforce your message.  Emphasizing the key takeaways of your data sets guides stakeholders to arrive at the same conclusions.

Data is only helpful to the extent that it is understood.  Effective application and presentation are the critical pieces that will spur your organization forward with proposed changes.  Following these simple guidelines for effective data presentation will ensure support for your strategy.

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