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  • Colleen Sweet

Progress starts with one action.

Making one big save. Offering one compliment. Supporting one local company. Pushing yourself to exercise for one more minute. Or taking one extra minute to double check a small, but important detail.

Single acts are the building blocks to progress.

In our business, iTOTEM Analytics considers the first step towards progress is when one piece of information helps one person. By simplifying complex data, we share stories that might otherwise go untold. And we believe a single-story can drive progress.

There are 10 rules, we think about when crafting a story.

  1. Use information for the public interest – don’t tell a story that harms people, other living creatures, or the environment.

  2. Know your audience. Think about what they care about.

  3. Build a story outline before you begin. Clarity of message and the connection you wish to make with people starts with an elegant and practical data model.

  4. It takes work to convey your message. Think about every question. Avoid surprises. Be transparent and highlight key insights.

  5. Rule #5 may seem to contradict rule #4. Answer the question - and not more. Otherwise, you’ve opened yourself up to more questions and you’ve complicated things… No one likes complication.

  6. Examine data for trends. A story’s plot may be built around the patterns you’ve discovered.

  7. If your story is about a list of 15 things, then list 15 things. Double check 15 are accounted for….. A pie chart must add up to 100%, not more or less. Catch the rounding error, before it catches the readers’ eye.

  8. Maps matter. Listing the correct communities, in the right locations, goes far. Everyone wants to find their place in the world.

  9. Trusted stories are revealed without embellishment. Use plain language and validated data to convey facts. The story stands.

  10. Graciously recognize those who contributed to the story's creation. They were generous with their time and resources. Sharing their information, their insights and their energy added to more knowledge in our world. And iTOTEM Analytics believes adding more knowledge creates progress.

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