Monday, November 24, 2008

My Story and I’m Sticking To it

I recently presented the results of an Employee Satisfaction Survey to a 75 member leadership team. 50% of the Managers themselves had responded to the survey. Before presenting any results from the survey, I asked… “What does it mean that 50% of you in this room completed the survey?”

“Those who didn’t respond didn’t think it would make a difference.”
“They were busy with other duties.”
“They didn’t think anything would change as a result.”
“They didn’t care.”

In truth, we don’t know what it means. All we really know... from the data… is that 50% responded. Everything else is only what it means to me! And, that’s my story… or my opinion, my assessment, my judgment.

Important? I think so. The ability to recognize and articulate the difference between DATA… “50% responded”… and STORY… “The others were busy” is the mark of a clean and clear communicator.

You see, data is just data. It’s what a video camera can record. Dragnet’s Joe Friday “Just the facts Ma’am”. It’s the only thing we need agree on in most discussions. And, everything else is my story, my feelings, my desires… my stuff. I can own all my stuff. I can’t own data. So, the mature, effective, clear communicating leader separates data from everything else.

“The facts are that 50% responded. The story I make up from that data is that others didn’t respond for a number of reasons… competing priorities, lack of care, apathy. What are your thoughts?”

What is the story you’re making up from the data in your life?