Some leaders rely heavily on data to persuade their teams to embrace a needed change. Data is perceived as credible, making it a powerful means to convey the impact of a change. Data is influential and convincing, a necessary ingredient of every change rationale.
But there’s no emotion in data, and it’s that emotion that brings the data to life, that makes it memorable, enabling people to connect with the need for a change. Most people have a limited capacity to absorb data without a supporting narrative. But once the data is embedded into a story, it makes the story credible, generating empathy and enabling action. In his book “Actual Minds, Possible Worlds,” psychologist Jerome Bruner estimates that facts are approximately 22 times more likely to be remembered if they are part of a story.
A good story is impactful when it’s personal and relatable, sharing experiences that help your team empathize with one another around shared fears, needs and ambitions in a manner that reinforces your company’s purpose and values. The most effective stories describe triumphs over challenges, departures from the past, doing what has never been done, or going where few have been.
Pairing stories with data is the most effective way to persuade your team to commit to a change initiative. It also generates a sustainable, personal motivation as the change process evolves which focuses energy, encourages perseverance, and builds the commitment and shared ownership required for the change to be successfully implemented.
How often are you using stories to motivate your team?