I spent the end of last week talking to a group of financial directors on a cruise. As part of my responsibilities I hosted four discussion groups, the topic for which was "Creating customer focused finance teams".
At the start of each session I asked the participants to introduce themselves and talk a little bit about the businesses that they were from. The range of businesses that people work in amazed me yet again. Everything from the world's largest supplier of daffodils to a company trying to export the idea of free range eggs to America. All of them, even those in more conventional businesses, had great stories to tell and flew in the face of conventional wisdom that would have us believe that accountants are not the most exciting people in the world!
In fact it became apparent that all of them had a significant role to play in the overall story of their businesses. Not only the story as it related to the customers, but also as it related to their own employees. In fact it was the potential of stories to help everyone make sense of what could otherwise be difficult to understand data that became the theme of the sessions.
Making sense of things, and helping others understand, are really key activities in the workplace. They are also aspects of work that the social media principle of "working out loud" is made for.