The Data Scientist and Storytelling as Its Real Job

Data science, big data, data-driven decision-making, all topics that are fascinating to me. The following topic is very interesting and perhaps not the topic you think directly about in relation to data science, namely Storytelling.

From Data to Business Results

What is the process? People transform Data into Information, from Information to Insights, from Insights to Action and Action resulting in Business Results.

Storytelling comes in place when insights need to be translated in action. Storytelling helps create and tell a compelling story created from raw data that inspire and trigger people to act.

On Harvard Business Review, Jeff Bladt and Bob Filbin wrote an interesting article, on data scientists and storytelling, at one point they write:

Data gives you the what, but humans know the why.

The best business decisions come from intuitions and insights informed by data. Using data in this way allows your organization to build institutional knowledge and creativity on top of a solid foundation of data-driven insights.

The three steps they provide to go from millions and millions of datapoints to change are:

  • Look only for data that affect your organization’s key metrics.
  • Present data so that everyone can grasp the insights.
  • Return to the data with new questions.

Storytelling creates common understanding

Storytelling creates a common understanding, a common language about the challenges or opportunities that data shows.

Source: via Damarque on Pinterest


The additional power of storytelling is that data in itself doesn’t contextualize, people need to do that. They need to put it in the context of their business proposition, target audience and what more. The good thing about storytelling is that you force yourself of leaving out all that is not important and tell what others need to know.

Everybody is busy adding their own piece of value to the business, overwhelming people with data is not productive, tell a story.

Have you experienced storytelling as a compelling way to talk about data?