When “data-driven” isn’t a compliment


Surveying senior executives in global companies is not easy – or cheap. So when all that lovely data arrives back it is rather tempting to make really good use of every single number, to show and tell the reader exactly what you paid for. Sadly, however, this seldom leads to interesting or insightful thought leadership. But what does? Here are our top tips based on the best reports we’ve seen underpinned by survey data:

  • Work backwards. What are the key messages and insights you’d like to deliver? Based on this, what questions do you need to ask?
  • Use different research approaches. Don’t just rely on survey data. What other research would support your insights? Secondary research enables you to build on others’ work, and avoid accidentally repeating it. Interviews typically unearth deeper insights and case studies bring the material to life and can help engage the reader.
  • Get analytical. Seldom do the basic figures provide much insight. 75% of respondents expect to recruit more people next year – so what? However, knowing how the leaders differ from the rest can often provide real insight.
  • Be brutal. Does that particular question really support your message? If not, leave it on the laptop. The best reports often use just a small proportion of the questions that were initially asked.



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