But data isn't everything. Data alone is a snore to those not equipped to or interested in swimming in it. Personally, if I'm thrown a bunch of data and forced to digest without the ability to look at the angles that I want to explore myself, I get quite upset and then bored.
In Lincoln on Leadership: Executive strategies for tough times by Donald T Phillips, he talks about Lincoln's proclivity for using story to bring his message home. Many important statements and answers had a story involved, often stories of simple folk on the frontier. Phillips includes a quote from Thomas J Peters and Nancy K Austin:
"It turns out that human beings reason largely by means of stories, not by mounds of data. Stories are memorable. ... They teach. ... If we are serious about ideals, values, motivation, commitment,we will pay attention to the role of stories and myths."
So it depends in part on what the objective of your communication is. Data still has a role in making reasoned decisions. But when seeking emotional buy-in, excitement, motivation, commitment to a cause or value, then the most powerful tool you can use is story.
Leveling up in 2012
Challenged to think about my next level and how I plan to attack it, I focus on much of what I've already posted regarding my themes and challenges for the year. The next level for me will mean cutting down on piles of materials (physical and mental) by starting to USE them. Taking risks, making commitments, staying disciplined - all at levels that aren't default for little miss "you'll find me in the corner with a book".
On this journey, I expect some key guides to help (no commitment needed guys, just by being you). J. Jack & Lorraine. Jenny. Mom & Dad. Probably others.
Let the games begin. (Or crank, since we're a couple of weeks in already.)