Data. Data! Our culture is so obsessed with data!

More and more of our clients are asking us to provide data about our projects working on leadership development and cultural clarity projects.

  • “How is this work actually changing things for the better?”
  • “How do we know if we are getting our money’s worth?”
  • “What is really working?”

All important questions, but tough because new thinking is required to arrive at the answers. What data do we measure? What data is there?

And a lot of us in the leadership and culture space get hung up on an understandable aversion to using cold hard data to measure cultural and personal “work.”

I am, however, eager to experiment and learn how to bridge feelings and rational thought and demonstrate the relationship to each other.

Sasha Dichter, in his recent blog, “Uncorrelated Impact Understanding,” gave me a hint. I think the quest might be to figure out how seemingly tangential things begin to evolve, grow, or change when the culture and leadership tools start getting practiced and embedded — “part of the water supply” as one of our clients likes to say.

Maybe it’s not just about the evaluation data, but in identifying the brightspots — the stories of places where someone uses the new tools to successfully lead through a situation of change. Details about what worked, what didn’t, and what people are eager to try again. (Thanks, Heath brothers.)

To use one of my favorite songs from Rent to tell the story:

“How do you measure a year?”
“In daylights? In sunsets? In Midnights? In cups of coffee?”
Or “in five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes?

Is it traditional data? Benchmarks, engagement surveys, rankings?

Or, is it the stories of the ways culture and leadership tools and practices create stronger, more impactful teams?

Maybe stories of the way a cultural clarity or leadership tool attracted a great new team member, empowered a cross-team solution, or motivated people to reach further than they thought they could are the data.

Story is the data.