Telling the Story with Numbers.

3 05 2016

“You better cut the pizza in four pieces, because I’m not hungry enough to eat six.” ~ Yogi Berra

“There are lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Is a bonus quote attributed to Mark Twain, and is pertinent to my point, if not the comic.  Knowing how to tell a story with numbers is knowledge, and knowledge is power.  Whether you’re a college freshman trying to explain to your dad how it’s actually going to save money by signing a lease for an apartment versus paying for the dorm, or you’re trying to convince your spouse that the a new truck will be cheaper than the maintenance costs of the old truck, you need to know how to use numbers to tell a story.

Leaders, this is even more important in the workplace.  If you want some more expense in your budget, you need to be able to tell leadership how that spend will create more revenue, opportunity, mission delivery, or whatever.  When evaluating the success (or not) of a program, you need to run the numbers, and use them to tell the story of that success.  This evaluative process is one of those “lather, rinse, repeat” exercises you’ll do more and more as your career grows, so get good at it.  If you’re not, ask for classes in excel – they’re not expensive, and will pay back leadership many-fold for the investment – as long as you can tell them the story of how it will.  (Note:  Don’t try to lie to me with statistics… I can smell a statistical lie like someone breaking wind in a car!)

Speaking of pizza…


Rubes cartoons used with permission.




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