There is a mantra that I’ve been hearing: “No data without stories, and no stories without data.” At first blush, this sounds awesome. It honors the art of storytelling; elevating it to the powerful level of data. And it also helps the storyteller fully grasp the power of data; their stories now pack a powerful data-driven punch.
However those of us who live in the world of innovation, this mantra can be crippling. There often is little to no data to pair with the stories we discover. And many stories in the early phases of innovation work are just anecdotes. As the innovator accumulates knowledge and more anecdotes, opportunity areas start to emerge; and from opportunity, innovation springs.
And that is the conundrum. In a data driven world, the simple anecdote is looked down upon, but often is where the richest untapped insight exists.
“No stories without data, and no data without stories” is a great rule of thumb. But it is not a law. For the vast majority of what business does, this rule of thumb will keep us safe. But for the innovator, the company rule breaker, the anecdote is a mightly lens to view the system cracks and failings.
So this blog is dedicated to the lowly and often maligned innovator tool: the anecdote.
Use it well.
Use it wisely.