Third, young leaders live in the world of story. They are less concerned with numbers and statistics than in the emotional pull of a good story. They want to pick out the individual from the masses and put a face on the issues at hand. Statistics don’t motivate them; testimonials and parables speak their language.
Taking this further, these young leaders are wary of statistics. Maybe it’s that deep-seated skepticism. After all, you can find statistics to support any point you want to make. So if young leaders see phenomenal numbers coming out of a program, but a lack of good stories, they see red flags. They are far more willing — than most Boomers are comfortable with — to intuit from a handful of stories a trend and quicker to jump on that trend and ride it as early adopters. Sure, it’s risky. But it suits their style to value feeling, imagination and gut instinct.
While I’m on this point, let me get on my soapbox for a minute. I grate my teeth a little every time I hear someone say, “But that’s just anecdotal evidence!” “Anecdotal evidence”? That feels like an attempt by modernists to fit stories into a numeric, quantitative orientation. Let me suggest another name for it: “true stories.” We should be acknowledging the stories we hear as opportunities to see God moving. We need to find a way to make stories a key quality measurement. How? It’s difficult to make generalizations, but Lencioni makes the point in Three Signs of a Miserable Job that you can find ways to measure quality, such as a drivethrough guy measuring smiles and outright laughs as an indicator of a qualitative improvement. Surely there’s a way to count God sightings, or perhaps the absence of them.
What are your thoughts about using stories as a measure of success?
I think I want both the stats and stories. I’ll often question both, but if they speak to me I’m keen to pass them on. Found your blog while trawling for blogs that have the kind of stories people want to share.
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Thanks for the referral, Steve! I appreciate your blog as well.