In March 2003 I was working at as an Junior Implementation Consultant specialising in Oracle Financials, a large Enterprise Resource Planning product in the same space as SAP.
I had been in this role just over 9 months.
Everything was new to me. The role of a consultant, the product, the projects themselves, and the tasks I was required to complete.
On one occasion I was asked to deliver training for the Accounts Payable (AP) module. My role was to teach the current AP team in Singapore how to use the new module starting 1st April.
There was one problem. I barely knew anything about Accounts Payable processes, let alone the module and how it functioned.
Fortunately for me the training material existed and I was supported by an experienced consultant who was in the room with me.
Not having a choice, and knowing I would have to eventually, I stood up and started to deliver the two days of training. Yes I was nervous, and it showed.
I was only ever two pages ahead of the class in the training manual. I was concentrating hard on the step by step guide, repeating verbatim what it said.
I was a parrot.
Yet I experienced these little ah-ha moments during the training.
Moments where the dots connected and everything made sense.
Moments where concepts I had been struggling to grasp in my preparation suddenly made sense. Where everything my colleagues had been trying to teach me gelled.
That experience of those moments has stuck with me to this day.
I made it through the training and didn’t make a fool of myself. I proved to myself I could stand up in front of a group of people and communicate.
Most importantly I learnt how in the act of communicating something you yourself learn. This is the lesson I want to draw from this story.
My mind races as I think of the many scenarios and organisations I have been in where this lesson would be valuable. Where the benefit of repeating back what you have heard can benefit your own learning and understanding.
I am sure you can think of many yourself.
But the reason I told this story today is that this is what I am doing right now. In this post.
I am interested in the power of a story.
As I have learnt more about story I have noticed more and more how prevalent stories are around me. How people reach into their internal bookshelves and pull out their own stories in specific circumstances. Sometimes the same story every time. Sometimes the same story in different circumstances.
Each time they are trying to communicate something specific. There is meaning in those stories. And the act of telling them comes so naturally to all of us.
I want to learn more about story. And that is what this post is about.
It is me using a story to make a point.
It is me practicing the act of story telling so that I myself can learn about it through doing and hopefully experience more little ah-ha moments as I start to understand the topic more.
As a final note, I went on in my career to specialise on the processes related to this part of the accounting function. I gained the confidence to deliver training even if I was not the expert yet. I did this again on other occasions, standing up to deliver training on other modules I knew little about. Each time coming out the other side wiser and better able to support my customers.