Pixar’s 22 Rules for Phenomenal Storytelling: A CAO’s Guide

Picture the scene. You and your team of analysts, statisticians and data scientists have just developed a new model that predicts the buying behaviours of your most premium clients. You believe the insights will grow revenue from this segment by 40% and reduce churn by 20%. The model works because the data set was good and the team had a moment of genius.

You head over to the CMO (or whoever asked for the insights). You sit them in a room and deliver an amazing presentation based on propensity scores and other technical information.

The mood falls flat. They don’t get it, they don’t believe it and they’re not going to use it.

What went wrong?

Recently, Corinium ran the Chief Analytics Officer Forum in Johannesburg and the majority of discussion centered around the ability of analytics professionals to be able to tell the story of the insights. And, importantly, in a way that engages business and incites action.

You’ve got to speak to your audience in a way they understand!

I’ve written an article in the past about this but while sitting in Annie Symington’s presentation, I was introduced to Pixar’s 22 Rules for Phenomenal Storytelling.” A guide that Annie uses consistently when she and her team deliver insights to the rest of the business. This, alongside infographics, storyboards and other creative devices.

Never mind the fact that I liked the concept. The delegates at the event totally bought into the idea that they need to look outside of their own worlds for ideas on how to bring analytical insights to life.

Rule #8 resonated with a number of other presentations: “Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world, you have to move on and do better next time.”

Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world, you have to move on and do better next time.

Put in a different way “done is better than perfect.” Rather than get out a model that is 95% accurate in a short time frame than a model that is 98% accurate in 2 months. Take your story to business! Get business moving.

Since I have already written an article entitledBusiness Storytellers – The New Job Title for Analytics Professionalsthe point of this article was to introduce you to Pixar’s rules. An introduction into a different way of thinking.

Want to find out more? Join us at Chief Analytics Officer Europe this April to discover the latest trends in business analytics.


By Craig Steward:

Craig Steward is the Managing Director for EMEA responsible for developing Corinium’s C-level forums and roundtables across the region. One of Craig’s major objectives is to provide the data & analytics community with informative and valuable information based on research and interactions with senior leaders across EMEA. Contact Craig on [email protected]

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  6. Srinidhi says:

    These days, everyone's a storyteller. CAOs and CDOs must learn from Pixar's example.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I agree, analytical people definitely need to work on their presentation skills to get buy-in from colleagues and managers. And Pixar is an amazing example!

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    No work is ever wasted. If it's not working, let go and move on. It'll come back around to be useful later.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Nice tip on using Pixar's storytelling techniques to sell the value of data and analytics. Although, the problem sometimes is the storyteller, not the storytelling.

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