The Big Data Divide And One Solution...

...For Moving The Needle Forward in All 5 Areas of The Data Gap

Below is the infographic on the common areas CIOs say is hindering them from gaining bigger results from big data. Yet there is a single skillset common to all five of these critical areas for technology leaders.

That skill set is narrative. Hard to believe, but true. Narrative is the most effective and efficient pull technology to use to bring positive results in the challenges technology leaders face.

Today’s technology leaders need narrative practices and skills more than ever before to reshape their cultures, be more influential across the organization, and build high performing teams in order to survive and thrive.

Narratives are how we make work meaningful, how we communicate, how we learn best, and how we create our future. Stories build trust, credibility, relationships, teams, and influence.

Now who wouldn’t want to know that?

Now who wouldn’t want to use that?

Here are the steps to take (including narrative practices) to get more traction in each of the five most critical areas that are in the data gap:  

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1. Analytics skills

75% of CIOs rate their org’s current analytics skills (quality, access, governance, value) as average or below average – insights that drive biz value and the move to digital are compromised, hindered

Do More Of These Steps:

  1. Train on different types of business value and how to look for these.
  2. Train on actionable insights – the different kinds of insights to seek, and 3 levels of insights that bring different types of business value.
  3. Train on turning data into knowledge through narrative principles (“Oh, that makes sense.”), then understanding about business opportunities with what currently is (“Oh, here’s new savings or revenue opportunity to what we are already doing.”), then transformation into totally new business opportunities (“Ah ha! Here’s a new business model, new revenue stream, new market, or disruptive product/service!”).
  4. Train on the process of connective inquiry to generate even more smart recombinations of data, mashups, and melding of functions.
  5. Train on data storytelling to help make sense of and communicate insights, business value, and opportunities.

2. Talent

65% of CIOs struggle with attracting & retaining talent; only 17% have the talent they need – a more compelling culture plus tech vision engaging Millennials is lacking

Do More Of These Steps:

  1. Build a talent magnet. Stories are a pull technology, bringing people into your sphere of influence. Stories of your organization/work/culture are repeated and spread outside of your presence.
  2. To have this happen, craft and broadcast your 7 Signature Stories that create word-of-mouth marketing:
  • Your Origin story (the story of how your org got started) 
  • People & Results stories (the extraordinary accomplishment your customers achieved because you helped them; how staff saved the day; the extraordinary ways your vendors contribute to your company)
  • Product/Service stories (the backstory of why and how a product/service was created)
  • Why I story (what keeps you/group motivated when the chips are down) Values in Action stories (experiences of how your group lives the company’s values)
  • Lessons Learned stories (Mistakes made, challenges overcome, lessons learned that have made you better, stronger, etc.)
  • The Vision story (stories of when you/group lived your technology or business vision) Leverage your People & Results stories first. Then your Vision story. Follow up with your Values In Action stories.

3. High performance teams/culture

67% of CIOs?say they are NOT effective in creating a high-performance culture – difficulty in meeting the demands for speed and performance with less budget

Do More Of These Steps:

  1. Create more psychological safety by learning to deliberately evoke stories from others, while using story listening behaviors. This creates deeper connections and builds trust.
  2. Focus more the different stories and communication topics a team will tell at each stage of Forming, Norming, Storming, Performing. High performing teams and cultures tell lots more stories at a higher frequency than lower performing teams, particularly Lessons Learned stories.
  3. Pay attention and guide storytelling about projects to stoke and keep momentum. This keeps work meaningful.
  4. Share more stories about the impact of people’s work on larger projects, initiatives, goals, corporate values and vision so staff know the impact they are having. This builds pride and engagement.

4. Communication

60% of CIOs say they are NOT effectively communicating the financial impact of IT – once insights are gained, there’s trouble getting funded

Do More Of These Steps:

  1. Drop the old “tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, tell them what you told them” model. It’s ineffective. Keep audiences engaged and share memorable material that stick with effective storytelling.
  2. Design presentations using narrative patterns & influence techniques. Make sure your presentations include real people, a common enemy, the opportunity/the threat, a key message, concrete action steps to take today for realizing tomorrow, an inspiring close.
  3. Lay out the opportunities, along with the consequences of not taking action. Contrast today’s reality with future opportunity, at least 2-3 times during your presentation.
  4. Drop the data dumps. Neuroscience shows that data dumps keep audiences asking for more information, debates are common, and indecision the rule. Learn to weave data and narrative together for maximum impact.

5. Influence

53% of CIOs?say they have trouble influencing stakeholders across the org – difficulty gaining alignment, buy-in, and support

Do More Of These Steps:

  1. See #3 – High performing teams/culture
  2. See #4 -- Communication

If you want to know more about any of these steps, here's how to take action:

  1. Book: “Business Storytelling For Dummies” (Wiley)
  2. Event: Tech Leaders workshop on data insights and connective inquiry
  3. Send me a question

Dr. Karen Dietz has 20 plus years working with Fortune 500 companies, startups, and nonprofits with her unique combination of organizational development, leadership, high performing teams, communication and storytelling expertise.

Karen is an original in the field of business narratives, the author of “Business Storytelling For Dummies” (Wiley), a TEDx and Vistage speaker, and has built the world’s largest library of the best business storytelling articles with over 17k followers at

Karen has recently turned her skills to developing a similar library for technology leaders on data insights, data storytelling, technology leadership, culture, and high performing teams at

She’s been around technology organizations for years and her favorite groups to work with are engineers and scientists.